Hispanics emerge as digital market

Aug 19, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Urban Hispanic Americans are an “untapped digital cable market,” according to “Focus: Latino II,” a new research report from Horowitz Associates that will be unveiled at the ninth annual Ethnic Marketing Conference in Chicago, Sept. 25 to Sept. 27.
That’s particularly true of those Hispanic Americans who may speak little or no Spanish at home but still value their heritage and especially their Spanish-language TV channels.
“It is becoming increasingly important for MSOs, broadband providers and media brands to design marketing and programming strategies appealing to the various subgroups of urban Hispanic consumers in order to capture this emerging market,” said Howard Horowitz, president of the 20-year-old Larchmont, N.Y.-based market research and consulting company.
So-called urban Hispanics are “upward” of 80 percent of all Hispanic-heritage Americans, Mr. Horowitz said. Three-quarters of all urban Hispanics say Spanish-language TV channels are important to their households, and nearly half (44 percent) of those urban Hispanics who speak little Spanish at home say Spanish-language channels are important, according to the report.
“It’s not either/or, but a matter of carefully integrating both languages to best communicate with the Latino consumer in the U.S.,” said Horowitz cultural anthropologist Alisse Waterston.
Currently, 16 percent of all urban Hispanic households report subscribing to digital cable. That digital penetration number rises to 33 percent among English-language-oriented urban Hispanics, well above the overall urban level of 21 percent penetration, according to the report, which also projects that digital penetration among English-language-oriented urban Hispanics will rise to a full 50 percent.
For Spanish-language-oriented urban Hispanics, however, digital penetration is at 10 percent, well below the overall urban average. Among all urban Hispanics, both Spanish and English speakers, the potential level of penetration for digital cable is around 28 percent, the report said.
Spanish-dominant speakers comprise one segment of the urban Hispanic market that cable operators are not successfully reaching, according to the report, which finds that only 23 percent of this group can name a feature or a service of digital cable, compared with 63 percent of English-dominant Hispanics and 47 percent of all urbanites.
An obstacle to increased penetration of the urban Hispanic market is the “way cable and digital and satellite services are structured,” Mr. Horowitz said. “Targeted services for whatever [Hispanic] group end up being an add-on service, so these particular market segments have to pay more to get the programming that they want. … They ought to be able to buy in at the same prices as other people.” And cable operators need to provide them with Spanish-speaking salespeople, he added.
Both ratings leader Univision and second-place Telemundo have recently launched new channels targeting younger Hispanic American viewers, who are increasingly likely to be English-language-oriented, and that is an “essential strategy” if the parent channels are to avoid obsolescence, Mr. Horowitz said.
While the parent channels have historically been dependent on imported telenovelas, the new offshoots are beginning to program in all the hot genres of the day.
Advertisers looking to reach young Latinos should think of the offspring networks as well as the parent networks and remember that their creative needs to be in both English and Spanish, with deployment on a context-appropriate basis, Mr. Horowitz said.