Quality Trumps Language When Seeking Hispanic Viewers

Panelists at Hispanic Television Summit debate whether networks should program in Spanish or English, but ultimately, everyone agrees that content is king.
Author:
Publish date:

New York--Regardless of the platform or the language, if you have good content, the audience will come.

 That was the message at a panel discussion at the B&C/Multichannel News Hispanic Summit in New York Thursday. The panel: “How to Best Distribute Content in a Multi-Screen Environment,” was ostensibly about the many platforms, including broadcast, cable, broadband and mobile that companies are using to attract Hispanic customers, but the panelists spent a good deal of time talking about the challenges of reaching an audience that is not nearly as homogenous as it seems.

A major sticking point is the language. While many of the Hispanic-targeted networks are in Spanish, a number of them program exclusively in English, in an effort to tap into the second and third generation Hispanic community that speak little or even no Spanish.

“60% of Latinos were born here, American born Latinos watch TV primarily in English,” said Michael Schwimmer, CEO of SiTV, adding that while many of these viewers want to retain a cultural connection to their home country, they do not necessarily associate themselves as being from that country.

Still, there was disagreement among the panelists.

“I am a believer in the Spanish language,” said James McNamara, chairman of Panamax Films and non-executive chairman of Cine Latino. “Every single series in English [produced by the major networks] has the U.S. Hispanic audience in mind, so that is who you are competing against.”

Rather than try and steal a chunk of the English speaking Hispanic audience, McNamara advocates trying to appeal to the more niche but still desirable Spanish-only and mostly Spanish speaking audience.

Still, regardless of the platform and the language, the panelists agreed that the biggest underlying factor in reaching the audiences you want to reach is content.

“We don’t think its about language, its about quality,” said Bob Behar, founder of Hero Productions. “If [the content] is good, people will find it.”

Related