Grande Totals

Spanish-language stations are the bright spot in local TV

Why This Matters

Author Information
Fratrik is a VP of BIA Financial Network, a financial and strategic advisory firm serving the media and communications industries.

While there has been little good news for broadcast television over the past several years, Hispanic-network-affiliated TV stations are the notable exception. Univision, TeleFutura, Telemundo and Azteca America continue to expand, increasing the number of outlets in many areas and entering markets that previously had no such Spanish-language stations.

The power these stations now wield is due to the explosive growth in the U.S. Hispanic population and the demand by advertisers to reach this market, causing revenue at Spanish-language TV stations across the country to increase more rapidly than in the overall industry.

Top Markets in 2004
Ranked by Hispanic-network affiliates’ share
Share Revenue (million) Market Rank
Source: BIA Financial Network
1 Laredo, Texas50.9%$5,250190
2 El Paso, Texas31.7%$17,500100
3 Harlingen-Brownsville, Texas27.5%$14,50093
4 Yuma, Ariz.-El Centro, Calif.20.4%$2,200171
5 Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Fla.20.0%$106,10017
6 Monterey-Salinas, Calif.18.3%$7,200124
7 Palm Springs, Calif.17.2%$5,500159
8 Fresno-Visalia, Calif.14.8%$15,10058
9 Corpus Christi, Texas14.0%$4,575129
10 Bakersfield, Calif.13.7%$4,700128
11 Los Angeles13.6%$233,0002
12 San Antonio13.0%$22,75037

In 1950, the Hispanic population in the U.S. numbered only 4 million. By 2000, it had reached 35.3 million, an 800% increase over the 50-year period. In every 20-year period since 1950, the Hispanic population has more than doubled. And the important 18-24 demographic makes up nearly 13% of the Hispanic population, compared with 10% of the Caucasian population.

As a result of this phenomenal growth, U.S. Hispanics constitute a majority, or a very significant percentage, of the audience in many TV markets, and they are having a major impact on how stations operate and expand.

Like the population, the number of stations affiliated with a Hispanic network has soared over the past five years. In 2000, 87 television stations operating in 44 markets were affiliated with one of the Hispanic networks. By 2005, that number had increased to 151, a 56% upsurge, and the number of markets had risen to 53. With these changes boosting the stations’ audience and revenue, Hispanic stations have become more important in many markets.

These developments have not escaped the attention of local retailers and advertisers, who are intensely interested in reaching this important group of viewers. This segment has been one of the strongest in an otherwise lackluster local TV marketplace in recent years, which will cause these stations to continue growing in importance.

Attractive to Cable

Interestingly, in some of the markets with Hispanic-network stations, no full-power unaffiliated stations are available. In fact, nearly half—73—of Hispanic affiliates are either Class A or low-power stations. Not operating at full power does not hamper these stations because many are carried on local cable systems. Operators, recognizing the importance of this demographic, are looking to provide more Hispanic programming and are willing to offer cable carriage.

So in some ways, Spanish-language stations have a reality that seems the opposite of existing English-language stations. While broadcast-network affiliates are losing viewers, Hispanic stations are gaining, and, while network affiliates have to fight for cable retransmission deals, cable operators want to carry Hispanic stations.

Full-power Spanish-language stations saw their share of local commercial audiences rise from 7.2% to 8.2% in the 2000-04 period. Some of them attract audiences much larger than the average: KLDO Laredo, Texas, attracts 45% of the viewers of local commercial television stations; KINT El Paso, Texas, draws 25%.

Similar success has occurred in building revenue at historically low-income-producing stations. BIA Financial Network estimates that full-power affiliates of Hispanic networks saw their share of local advertising revenues increase from 5.9% to 7.3% between 2000 and 2004. Some of them generate substantial sums: KMEX Los Angeles takes in an estimated $130 million; WXTV New York takes in $79.2 million.

For the stations as a group, revenue growth has been remarkable. As a chart on this page indicates, not only has the improved revenue position of Hispanic-network affiliates improved, but there have been steady increases in the number of such stations.

Moreover, in 12 of the 53 markets with Hispanic-network affiliates, those stations garner revenue shares of more than 10%.

As newer Hispanic stations establish themselves, there will increasingly be more markets in which more than 10% of TV revenues goes to Hispanic television. Although the number of affiliates may not grow as fast as in the past, the audiences attracted to these stations, as well as the revenues generated, will see a substantial increase. In fact, total revenues generated by these stations should continue to outpace the growth of the entire local television market by 2% to 4%. The Hispanic market should continue to be the shining light of local TV.