The Changing Face of Hispanic Media

After spending three full days at the Latino media upfronts in New York, I was overwhelmed. Lots of news both from a digital and broadcast perspective was shared in what is expected to bring 15 to 20 percent more dollars to the two major Hispanic networks.

Actually, there was a point that, after being exposed to so many new shows, I was confused as to which upfront I was at. Everyone tried to look better and different, but still their pitch seemed the same: younger, more acculturated Latinos, digital, and original content.

The New Latino Audience

From “The Shift” (Telemundo), to “Beyond” (Discovery), or “Latino Entertainment, American Attitude” (FOX), something was pretty clear: everyone was trying to make a statement about change.

And that change had more to do with the new audience rather than the content itself. Like trying to separate from the tradition of Spanish television that used to lean more towards recent arrival/less-acculturated Latinos.

Even Univision tried to separate itself from its traditional image, emphasizing on its many digital developments as well as new shows targeting young Latinos like “Noche de Perros” (Guys’ Night Out) for its TeleFutura cable network.

Young at Heart

With 61.8 percent of Latinos under 35 years old, it’s no surprise they all want to capture this audience, especially when this segment is more prone to crossover in terms of media consumption.

MTV Tr3s definitely understands the Latino youth. Not only for the cool and unpretentious event @lavony, but because it understands that young Latinos are impacting America’s culture. “Quiero mi baby” – an evolution of “quiero mi…” platform – is an interesting reality show that portrays the cultural challenges of the families of multiracial couples when their first baby arrives.

Mun2 was also focused on the same audience, but its upfront was kind of diluted as its news was presented together with those of its big brother Telemundo. Following the great success of the “RPM Miami” bilingual show, mun2 confirmed that it has renewed it for season two.

Latino Digital at the Core

Hispanic media does not want to miss the fastest growing digital segment: the Latino digerati. From new apps to digital integration to new social media platforms, this was the major shift from previous years. Univision presented its new version of the fútbol (soccer) app, building on last year’s World Cup app success.

The new “relationship” with Televisa provides Univision the digital rights of Televisa’s content, allowing for more integrated deals for advertisers. Another ambitious launch by Univision is the comedy series “No Me Hallo” (Finding Myself) across both the web and mobile apps. The five-minute episodes will premiere on the three-day-a-week schedule. Telemundo also wants a place in the digital novela space. In this case, both in Spanish and English, its bilingual Novelas iPhone and iPad app will expand the Club de Noveleras (novela’s fan club) sponsored by L’Oreal. Also, via a partnership with Billboard, it will launch a new entertainment web and mobile channel, making available Billboard premium digital content in Spanish for the first time. Deportes Mobile, Telemundo’s online sports channel, was also introduced.

Estrella TV, the number four Spanish-language network, will have social media voting for its “Mi Sueño es Bailar” show, with eliminations happening every week.

The Original and Not so Original Content

The Discovery Channel announced that it will double its production budget for original documentaries and series.

FOX launched Nat Geo Mundo, an original Spanish-language National Geographic channel, and also gave full support to Utilisima (the fastest growing Spanish-language cable network among women 25 and over). Together with Fox Deportes it represents the network’s three pillars to target bicultural Latinos.

As a direct attack to both leading networks, Estrella TV is disproving the notion that “Hispanics only watch novellas.” Its strategy is about turning successful English-language formats like “American Idol” into Spanish. Ideas might be missing, but budgets are not. Huge investments were made for developing brand new sets for its shows (i.e., hiring Andy Walmsley, creator of the “American Idol” set).

Talking about the usual suspects, expect to see many more novelas capitalizing on the growing momentum of both “Reina del Sur” and “Eva Luna.”

Univision will continue to bring Televisa’s novelas to the small screen, as well as developing its own. It will also launch three new themed cable channels: sports, news, and, of course, a novela one.

Interesting to note, two shows with a similar name were presented: “MIA Mundo” by Telemundo and “Mia” by Univision. The first one is about a modern, independent young woman, while the latter is also about an independent, fearless undercover female cop. Mere coincidence?

In Search of a New Face

While the Latino population experienced a 43 percent growth in the past 10 years, Spanish primetime audience and Hispanic media spending grew significantly more – 61 percent and 163 percent respectively – showing that Hispanic media is here to stay.

In terms of content, lots of improvements were shared at this upfront, but I still think there’s a long way to go. What’s clear is that media networks have realized that Hispanic media needs more than a face lifting. Hispanic media is looking for that new face.

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