Advertising has more of a Spanish accent

Oct 15, 2001  •  Post A Comment

NBC’s acquisition of Telemundo last week makes one point crystal clear: When agencies talk the language of targeted ad buys, increasingly they’re talking the language of Spanish-language TV.
While most American networks were suffering through their worst upfront in at least a decade, Univision and Telemundo, the two biggest U.S. Spanish-language networks, were booking increases of a reported 10 percent and 15 percent to 20 percent, respectively. Of course, neither has been immune from the post-Sept. 11 fallout-news cutbacks and layoffs associated with Sept. 11 are expected at Telemundo, though the until-now privately held network thus far has declined to comment on the possible cuts.
Still, both Univision and Telemundo’s overall prospects continue to be brighter than ever, with each network (Telemundo’s recently launched Mun2 and Univision’s Telefutura, scheduled to launch in January) spinning off new networks targeting younger viewers .
The reasons for Spanish-language TV’s new cachet with advertisers are as plain as the numbers in the 2000 census: Between 1990 and 2000, the number of Hispanic Americans increased by a startling 57.9 percent, making them the fastest-growing minority group in America, with 12.5 percent of the total population. More to the demographic point, one of every six people under 18 in the United States is a Hispanic American.
For the past four seasons, Starcom Worldwide has been examining this marketplace for its clients and summarizing its annual findings in an Insider’s Guide to Latino-Targeted Television. This year’s guide was compiled just before the start of the new season and authored by a team headed by Monica Gadsby, senior VP and director of Hispanic media. The highlights follow:
* Univision, with about a 76 percent share of the Spanish-language market, remains dominant, but Telemundo continues to grow rapidly, with new viewers coming from its bigger traditional rival or tuning out the English-language networks. Univision continues to dominate the Mexican American segment of the Spanish-language market, while Telemundo has “chipped away at Univision in more Caribbean- and South American-dominated East Coast markets,” according to the Guide.
* U.S. Hispanics are not only more numerous now, they are also more diverse: While the U.S. Mexican population increased by 53 percent in the last census, Hispanics from other countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean grew by 97 percent. The upshot has been a spate of co-production deals with Central and South American production entities as Univision and Telemundo reach out to their non-Mexican American viewers. One result of that was last year’s “Betty La Fea” phenomenon. The wildly successful telenovela, which is already in development in an English-language format, and its follow-up, “Eco Moda,” are from Colombia’s RCN.
* In addition to more programming from south of Mexico, this year’s new programming trends include reality-based shows, such as Telemundo’s “Protagonistas”; more sitcoms, including three new shows from Telemundo and two from Univision; and Spanish-language TV’s first animated series for adults, Telemundo’s “Buscando a Rita.”
* Sports will be bigger news than ever on the Spanish-language networks, with the 2002 World Cup soccer matches airing exclusively on Univision. Fox Sports World en Espa ‘ol has enjoyed its own viewer surge by focusing on Latin American soccer and other sports, including boxing and baseball, geared particularly to the Hispanic market; in fact, Fox provides 650 hours of first-run soccer per year.
* Individual new-season matchups to watch include “Eco Moda” on Univision vs. Telemundo’s “Solterita y a la Orden,” which the latter network pitches as the Hispanic “Ally McBeal”; the Mexican-oriented novelas on Univision vs. Telemundo’s more numerous Brazilian, Venezuelan and Colombian imports; and “Futbol Telemundo” vs. Univision’s Mexican League soccer. As winners in those matchups, the Guide picks Univision’s “Eco Moda” and Univision’s sports programming, with Telemundo “likely” to hit the jackpot with its more offbeat telenovelas, such as “Pedro el Escamoso.”
* English-language counterprogramming aimed at capturing Hispanic viewers includes Nickelodeon’s Hispanic-themed “The Brothers Garcia” and its bilingual “Dora the Explorer,” Showtime’s “Resurrection Boulevard” and ABC’s and CBS’s secondary audio programs in Spanish, including, for example, CBS’s attempt to capture part of the daytime Hispanic audience with Spanish SAP simulcasts of “The Bold and the Beautiful.”
* While half of all Hispanic Americans live in just two states, California and Texas, eight other states gained more than 100,000 Hispanic residents each in the last census. That means that the other markets targeting-minded advertisers and agencies need to consider are in Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, Washington, Virginia, Oregon, Utah and Indiana.