Melinda Witmer Says TWC’s Goal Is to be Hispanic Viewers’ ChoiceCable company’s innovations in Spanish-language TV earn summit recognition 9/30/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern
Guide to U.S.
In New York, the local news is delivered in Spanish as well as English. In Los Angeles, fans of
the National Basketball Associationâs Los Angeles Lakers also have that second-language option
for game telecasts. Time Warner Cable has long pushed forward in reaching out to Latinos
in many ways, including marketing and customer communications, but it was the companyâs
longstanding commitment to programming â particularly the debut of NY 1 Noticias (news) a
decade ago and Time Warner Cable Deportes (sports) last year â that earned the No. 2 U.S. MSO
the Leadership in Hispanic Television Award, to be presented at the Hispanic Television Summit
on Oct. 2. Broadcasting & Cable/Multichannel News contributor Stuart Miller spoke with Time
Warner Cable executive vice president and chief video and content offi cer Melinda Witmer about
the MSOâs eff orts in reaching out to Latinos.
MCN: How successful has NY1 Noticias been?
Melinda Witmer: Noticias has been a part of our
family of offerings for a decade. It shows that our
effort to take our relationship to the Hispanic community
to another level has been part of our DNA
for a long time.
We are still the only local Spanish-language
news channel that is on 24 hours a day. So it was
not only significant back then, it still stands out
today as a service to the community.
MCN: Could you see Time Warner Cable replicating that
MW: We are looking very closely at the possibility
of expansion into other markets, potentially
including Los Angeles. But it is a very significant
investment and we need to balance it with
the need for improvements in our operations
and other areas of our business. We do want to
deliver more news and more Spanish-language
news to consumers, so we continue to look
MCN: When did the company decide to devote even more
resources to Hispanic viewers, and what was the impetus
behind the move?
MW: Over the last five years, there has been an increasing
focus. Our moves have been multifaceted and
include marketing and other ways of engaging with
the consumer beyond programming.
The decision came from the realization that we
have, given our geographic location in markets
like New York and Los Angeles, one of the most
significant Hispanic footprints of any operator in
the country. First and foremost, it is about being
competitive, about being the provider of choice to
the Hispanic community.
MCN: Time Warner Cable Deportes was born when
your company created Time Warner Cable SportsNet, a
regional sports network in Southern California. What was
the motivation for that decision?
MW: Like NY1 Noticias, it is a revolutionary product,
showing that our commitment is at a whole different
level. We had done a lot of homework and knew the
Lakers had a tremendous Hispanic following, but a
less than ideal situation for Spanish speakers, many of
whom used to play a radio feed with their television
One thing that struck me when we completed the
deal with the Lakers was that Kobe Bryant said to me
that he responded to fans in Spanish as often as he
responded to fans in English.
MCN: What were the biggest challenges in launching Time
Warner Cable Deportes?
MW: There are challenges any time you launch a new
network, but this was not something anyone else had
done before so even just assembling the talent and
the organization was big. We did not simply want a
Spanish-language audio version of SportsNet; we
wanted an entirely new production with a sensibility
that would appeal to the Hispanic audience. Our team
took on that challenge with great zeal.
They bring different perspectives not just about
production, but about what fans want to know about the
players and the team. They have been their own fiercest
critics and are far better at measuring what works than I
could be. They created Lakers Compacto, the condensed
version of games with their own certain flair, and it was
so good that now SportsNet has the same show.
MCN: How have these networks been greeted by the
Spanish-speaking communities in their markets?
MW: There has really been strong grassroots support
for the network. Iâm hearing from consumers â I get
a lot of emails in Spanish now â but what is really
satisfying is that our Hispanic employee base has said
they have never been prouder of the company; that
this effort spoke to our level of commitment to their
community. Our team on Deportes has also said they
feel this is an incredibly special thing in the Hispanic
MCN: What other programming plans do you have for the
MW: We have been building up our on-demand platform
in Spanish and we have a Time Warner Cable TV
application with over 40 channels in Spanish.
MCN: Beyond programming, how has Time Warner Cable
reached out to this market?
MW: We also offer attractive packages for Hispanic
consumers, including bundled offerings with highspeed
Internet and an international calling plan that
allows them to call places like Mexico or the Dominican
Republic for just a penny a minute.
We also have an active marketing team that has done
some terrific work with campaigns that have received
awards in the industry and that is very engaged on the
social-media side â we have a Spanish-language Facebook
page. And we have been looking for some time at
creating Spanish-language websites and will make that
happen, hopefully, in the near future.