segment of the market is starting to represent a significant number that can no
longer be ignored by the media. As is always the case with media distribution,
if demand is there, then supply must follow," she says.
Isabella Sanchez, vice president of media integration of Miami-based Zubi Advertising, thinks she may be right. "On behalf of our clients we are constantly seeking additional opportunities to reach Hispanics, regardless of language," pointing to magazines like Hispanic Business, Vista and Latina, and news websites like FoxNewsLatino and NBCLatino.
"They were all designed with the same mission that Fusion has now; providing culturally relevant content for Hispanics in English," says Sanchez.
Not everyone is so confident.
Mark Lopez, associate director with the Pew Hispanic Center, says that while Hispanic population growth is driven by U.S.-born Hispanics, who consume more TV content in English, a 2009 Pew survey found that 60 percent of young Latinos say their parents often encouraged them to speak Spanish, while 47 percent of older Latinos who say the same.
Meanwhile, down the street, Telemundo is pursuing a different strategy.
In 2001, Telemundo too went after the English-language market with Mun2, a cable channel aimed at young Latinos. The channel's lineup features 40 percent English content, among them its most popular show, I love Jenni, a reality series subtitled in Spanish about the life of late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera.
But Telemundo Media executives say that Mun2 and Fusion are aimed at different audiences. Mun2 is designed for a young demographic, while Fusion's content is intended to be more broad-ranging.
Telemundo Media President Emilio Romano is clear that Telemundo s domain is Spanish-language programming.
"We consider that the Hispanic community once they are comfortable to be entertained and informed in English are looking for the best content possible, regardless of the content being Hispanic or not."
Once Hispanics are fluent in English, the content they seek is the same as other English-speaking viewers, he says. "I have not seen a media company that has successfully created a powerful content offering to entertain and inform Hispanics in English."
In the Telemundo world, English-language content belongs to its parent company, NBC Universal. Accordingly, Telemundo has its sights on the 500 million Spanish speakers worldwide. "We are determined to be the best Spanish language media company in the U.S. and the No. 1 producer and distributor of Spanish language content for the world," Romano said.
That second strategy could be the key.
In 2005, Telemundo decided to focus investment on producing its own telenovelas -- shows that it then distributes to networks worldwide. Currently its telenovelas are seen in more than 100 countries and translated to more than 35 languages. Its most successful telenovela, La Reina del Sur (The Queen of the South), featuring a female drug dealer, competed favorably with English-language networks. Its finale, on May 30, 2011, averaged nearly 4.2 million total U.S. viewers, ranking No. 2 for the time spot that night behind ABC's Extreme Makeover -- Weight Loss Edition in the key 18-49 demographic, according to Nielsen. The telenovela was also a hit in Spain and many Latin American countries.
Today Telemundo is the No. 1 producer of Spanish-language prime-time original content in the U.S. Most of that work happens here in South Florida; last year alone, Telemundo increased the shows it produces in Miami by 50 percent.
One factor in making Telemundo's strategy is its syndication arrangements, which covers half the cost of production.
While walking through the main studios, Romano, president of Telemundo Media since October 2011, is peppered with stories of success.
Layevksa, the star just arrived from Mexico, tells him journalists there are raving about the network's telenovelas.
Guilherme Bokel, executive director of Brazil's Globo network, praises the first episode of Marido de Alquiler, a remake of Brazilian telenovela Fina Estampa. The production partnership with Globo, the largest media group in Latin America by revenues, is considered a coup.
Other smaller players in the Hispanic TV market also bet on Spanish.
"We're firmly convinced that Spanish language programming is the best way to appeal to U.S. Latinos," says Daniel McCosh, a spokesman for Grupo Salinas, owner of California-based Azteca America.
That is also the view of CNN, which in June announced the expansion of its Spanish-language broadcast network, CNN Latino, to Miami in an effort to create a national Spanish-language network through affiliation agreements with stations in local markets.
"We found that young Hispanics who were raised in the U.S. preferred to be informed in their native tongue or their parent's native tongue in regards to issues that English media outlets did not touch upon," says Eduardo Suarez, vice president of Programming for CNN en Espanol.
But the success of Fusion or El Rey could change the landscape, some analysts believe. If Fusion is successful, other players will follow suit, says Exposito. But the transition will take time. "As the saying goes, "Rome was not built in a day," she adds.
(c)2013 The Miami Herald
Visit The Miami Herald at www.miamiherald.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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