The 2014 World Cup was not only the year’s biggest television event for soccer- crazed U.S. Hispanics. It was also a high point for U.S. multichannel operators, with a number of them heavily promoting their offerings during the first half of the year and reporting hefty subscriber gains among Latinos in June and July, which are traditionally slow months.
Since then, with the U.S. Hispanic population topping 54 million, about 17% of the overall population, operators are hoping to build on that success with a variety of improved products. On the video front, more content is available than ever before — the annual tally by B&C and Multichannel News of the Hispanic channels available in the U.S. climbed 12% in 2014, to 147 from 131 in 2013, and nearly double the total of 75 channels in 2005.
That has allowed operators to continue expanding their channel line-ups, with some offering as many as 70 networks targeting Latinos. But a number of operators also report that they are taking a hard look at their offerings, with plans to cut out underperforming nets and replace them with channels that can give them a leg up in an increasingly competitive market.
TV everywhere offerings are another major theme in this year’s look at the strategies of the five largest U.S. multichannel providers. While the number of Spanish-language channels available on mobile devices and for online streaming remains more limited than English-language fare, most operators reported significant expansion of those offerings both for digital platforms and traditional VOD.
Here’s a look at how top pay TV firms are targeting Hispanic viewers.
Video subscribers: 22.5 million
High-speed Internet subscribers: 21.3 million
Voice subscribers: 11 million
Contacts: Marcien Jenckes, EVP, consumer services; Michael D’Emilio, senior director, multicultural services; Justin Smith, SVP, content acquisition; Jose Velez Silva, senior director, multicultural marketing communications; Lucia Rodriguez, multicultural marketing; Debbie Frey, senior manager, corporate communications; main phone: (215) 665-1700
Hispanic video packages: Xfinity TV Latino (depending on the package, around 60 Spanish-language channels, including the Xfinity Latino Entertainment interactive channel, 80 English-language networks and VOD, with TV packages ranging from $29.95 to $69.95 a month, less with promotional offers.) More than 80 programmers have signed deals with the MSO; its systems select channels from those deals to customize local offerings for the area’s demographics.
Hispanic VOD, high speed internet and bundles: Has thousands of free Latino Xfinity On Demand choices at any time, plus dual English/Spanish audio feeds on select films and thousands of choices online, in Spanish, via the Xfinity Latino microsite the Xfinity TV Go app; some live Spanish-language channels available for streaming and on the app; various Xfinity Latino double- and triple-play packages available in 95% of footprint; voice subscribers get 300 minutes to Mexico and Latin America; Spanish bill available in 80% of footprint; self-service available in Spanish; X1 entertainment operating system makes it easier to find and discover content.
Major Hispanic markets: Exceeds 5 million Hispanic homes, serving such large Hispanic markets as Miami; Houston; Chicago; San Francisco; Boston; Denver; Atlanta; Philadelphia; Sacramento; and Albuquerque, N.M.
Recent and future plans: After being the first cable operator to make a major push to expand its Hispanic offerings in 2003, Comcast has continued to devote significant resources to the segment and in the last two years has significantly revamped and expanded its offerings.
Since 2010, its Xfinity Latino on Demand offering has increased by three-and-a-half times and now includes 51 Latino content providers. It has also significantly ramped up its TV everywhere offerings for Hispanics, with content choices on its Xfinity Latino site and Xfinity TV Go app more than doubling; as part of a bigger push to add more live channel streams to IP-connected devices, subscribers can now stream Mun2, ESPN Deportes and beIN en Español.
In December 2012, Comcast added 10 new Hispanic channels, including its interactive Xfinity Latino Entertainment channel, which provides all customers with a look at what is available on the Hispanic packages, and in 2013 it launched the first Xfinity Freeview Latino, the industry’s biggest Hispanic on-demand promotion. That event returned September 22 and runs through October 5 with more than double the content available during the 2013 promotion — 45 networks online and 30 Latino networks on the app.
Also in 2014, Comcast inked a deal to carry Univision Deportes, which is expected to launch soon; developed new Xfinity Latino packaging with better choices and pricing; offered Spanish-speaking customers access to all 64 World Cup matches immediately after the live broadcast began and throughout the entire tournament on Xfinity On Demand.
Other recently added channels include: El Rey Network, Cine Sony, beIN SPORT Español, Baby- First TV Americas, Centroamerica TV, LAS (Latin America Sports), Pasiones and Vme Kids; as well as alternate feeds for the Telemundo, Univision and UniMas broadcast networks.
Basic subscribers: 20.2 million
Contact: Karla Sustaita, director, Hispanic segment, (310) 964-5942
Hispanic video packages: Lowest-priced offering is Más Latino (more than 50 Spanish-language channels, local broadcasters, secondary audio programming feeds and English-language channels for a total of over 120 channels for $36.99; currently promoted at $24.99 for the first year); also offers Optimo Más (more than 70 Spanish-language and 115 English-language channels); Más Ultra (more than 75 Spanish-language and 145 English-language channels); and Lo Maximo (more than 75 Spanish-language and 240 English-language channels).
Hispanic VOD, HSI and bundles: Spanish-language on-demand content includes Spanish-language versions of new-release movie titles, Univision On Demand, MTV Tr3s, ESPN Deportes, Disney Channel, Sprout and Nickelodeon; bundled packages are sold with telco partners around the country; DirecTV apps, and TV everywhere offerings give customers access to content on computers and mobile devices.
Major Hispanic markets: National footprint with local broadcasters, including Spanish broadcasters where available.
Recent and future plans: DirecTV continues to strengthen its channel lineup, with new Spanish-language channels and additional SAP offerings. Recently added channels include estudio5. Starting with the 2014 NFL season, it began offering all NFL games in Spanish, via SAP.
Current promotions include: $26-per-month discount on Óptimo Más for the first year; $33 discount on the Más Ultra package of more than 230 English and Spanish-language channels, normally priced at $67.99; and $33 discount on the Lo Máximo package with more than 320 channels normally priced at $129.99.
Basic subscribers: 14.1 million
Hispanic video packages: DishLatino Clásico (more than 180 channels for $39.99, that is currently being promoted for $24.99 for the first 12 months); DishLatino Plus ($44.99 for more than 190 Spanish and English channels; it also has the $24.99/first 12 months promotion); DishLatino Dos (more than 225 English and Spanish channels for $54.99, currently promoted as $29.99 for the first 12 months); DishLatino Max (more than 265 English and Spanish channels for $61.99 promoted currently for $39.99 for the first 12 months). It also has FlexTV offerings that do not require contracts or credit checks.
Hispanic VOD, HSI and bundles: Spanish-language movies and television shows available on demand to subscribers with set-top boxes capable of getting on-demand content; authenticated online and app offerings include a growing amount of Spanish-language content; the Hopper With Sling allows users to access live streams of all channels and DVR content on IP-connected devices in and out of the home; telco partners bundle Dish’s video packages with their phone and Internet offerings; DishLatino portal offers extensive on-demand content online; Blockbuster OTT offering has Spanish-language titles for streaming.
Major Hispanic markets: National footprint with local broadcast stations available in most markets.
Recent and future plans: Dish was the first multichannel provider to seriously target the Hispanic market and it continues to have the largest subscriber base for Hispanic packages.
Over the last year it continued to add channels, including Fashion TV and beIN Sport, and now offers the full suite of Univision channels.
In the run-up to the 2014 World Cup, it developed a popular marketing campaign with a samba dancer representing Juego Bonito (the beautiful game) and heavily promoted its Hispanic offerings for the event, which produced one of its best sales cycles ever during June and July.
During the World Cup, Dish allowed subscribers to watch all 64 games live anywhere on tablets and mobile phones and created a multi-angle feature on its Hopper whole home DVR that allowed viewers to see the games from four different angles, which produced usage higher than the industry average.
Looking forward, top priorities include adding more content for mobile and online, additional HD channels and improving the overall line-up with highly valued content.
Time Warner Cable
Basic subscribers: 11.2 million
High-speed Internet subscribers: 11.4 million
Voice subscribers: 4.9 million
Contact: Marisol Martinez, senior director of relationship marketing, (212) 430-7251
Hispanic video packages: Offers several monthly packages, the most popular of which is El Paquetazo (65 to 80 Spanish-language channels for a total of 150 to more than 180 channels for $29.99 to $41.99, depending on the market.)
Hispanic VOD, HSI and bundles: Lo Mejor on Demand offers more than 160 free Spanish-language programs; is expanding Spanish-language offerings on its TV everywhere platform so it now has around 40 Spanish-language networks on its cable TV app; and has a variety of triple-play packages that are marketed to Hispanics.
Major Hispanic markets: New York; San Diego, Los Angeles and other Southern California operations; Texas; and the Carolinas; serves DMAs where about 47% of all U.S. Hispanics reside.
Recent and future plans: Its main Hispanic package, El Paquetazo, was first launched in 2008 in Los Angeles and is now available in its major Hispanic markets with a greatly expanded offering of Spanish- language channels and VOD content. Over the last year it has added El Rey Network, beIN Sports and additional Univision networks to its video packages and continued to beef up its VOD slate with the addition of content from El Rey and Mundo Fox.
Earlier this year the company launched a promotion of Internet service to Hispanics for $14.99 and in the second quarter added free unlimited calling to Mexico — both to mobile and landlines — to its voice offering, which also includes unlimited calling to the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. A third-quarter general market promotion offering a free Dell two-in-one tablet/PC for upgrades, has also proved popular with Hispanics, who tend to overindex on mobile device ownership and usage.
Time Warner Cable Continues to work to expand TV everywhere offers with 40 Spanish-language channels already available as part of a larger group of 300 channels on its apps; additional HD content, social media efforts and improved bundles, are also top priorities.
It continues to distribute its quarterly Nexos Latinos Magazine targeted to Spanish-dominant and bicultural Hispanic customers.
Basic video subscribers: 5.9 million
High-speed wired Internet connections: 16.5 million
Voice wireline connections: 27 million
Wireless subscribers: 116.6 million
Contacts: Aaron Slator, president, content strategy; Ryan Smith, VP, content acquisition; Julie Tran, director of content; (310) 552-0279
Hispanic video packages: Paquete Español (up to 50 channels for $15 a month on top of any U-verse TV programming tier); “U200 Latino” (up to 330 channels, including the channels in Paquete Español, for $87 per month); U300 Latino (up to 410 channels, including Paquete Español, for $102 per month); U450 Latino (up to 480 channels, including Paquete Español, for $134 per month); customers who order U200, U300 and U450 can add Paquete Español for $10.
Hispanic VOD, HSI and bundles: U-verse Movies library offers thousands of hours of free and paid on-demand titles that include Spanish-language movies, children’s programs and events, as well as VOD content from five Spanish language networks; has a variety of options for bundling U-verse TV Spanish-language packages with U-verse Internet, U-verse Voice and/or AT&T wireless services; offers low-cost international calling plans.
Major Hispanic markets: Los Angeles; Houston; Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, El Paso, Corpus Christi and Odessa-Midland, Texas; San Diego, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Sacramento- Stockton-Modesto, Fresno, Bakersfield and Monterey-Salinas, Calif.; Chicago; Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando and West Palm Beach, Fla.; Detroit-Ann Arbor, Mich.; Atlanta; and Raleigh- Durham and Charlotte, N.C.
Recent and future plans: Over the last year the telco has added three new Hispanic channels, including Mexicanal, and two HD feeds — Fox Deportes and ESPN Deportes in HD. It has a number of programming deals coming up and continues to take a hard look at its line-up with an eye toward replacing underperforming services with more popular channels.
Another top priority is to expand the HD channels and content available on multiple digital platforms as part of its TV everywhere efforts. At the end of July, it had 184 networks available in-home for its authenticated offering, 19 of which were Spanish-language, and had 102 available out of the home, four of which were in Spanish. By the end of September, that will increase to 24 Spanish-language networks in-home and seven out-of-home.
Recent promotions include offers of three free months for customers who upgrade from U200 Latino or U300 Latino to a higher tier. It offered a free preview of Paquete Latino Sept. 15-22.