Time Warner Cable (TWC) launched the country's first Spanish-language regional sports network on Oct. 1.
This will be the first time sports fans can watch L.A. Laker games in Spanish. It is the first time a National Basketball Association team is covered exclusively for Spanish-speakers.
TWC brought on a new production team, directors and Spanish-speaking talent familiar to Southern Californians, such as Martin "El Pulpo" Zuniga, Hipolito Gamboa and Enrique Gutierrez.
Mark Shuken, senior vice president and general manager at TWC Sports Regional Networks revealed more about Deportes to HispanicBusiness.
"The No. 1 lesson I have learned is just how loyal and how authentically orientated the Hispanic and Latino community is," Shuken said. "A lot of English-language media have tried to 'Anglosize' or add a Spanish touch to an English approach, and that just isn't the way to do it.
"The entire team here understands the Latino culture and the Hispanic sport fan, and they continue to remind me that that community is educated about sports, they want to be spoken to in an authentic voice," he said, adding that the Hispanic audience deserves "respect and cultural understanding."
The TWC Deportes network will take an original approach to music, color schemes and pacing, and will have a host of original programming, such as Somos Lakers, Lakers Compactos. Veteran sports host, Ricardo Celis will lead in-studio Lakers commentary.
"Some of what is important to the Latino customer will be different from that of the general market," Shuken said. Deportes will also cover boxing, lucha libre, and L.A. Galaxy games, along with "high school games that are primarily driven from Hispanic communities."
The two organizations have been formulating this network launch for about two years to ensure they have the best approach to reach out to the U.S. Hispanic community. There were joint discussions about how to best break the old-fashioned model of a regional sports network and provide something that the L.A. Lakers fans wanted but were not getting.
For Shuken, their timing is right on target.
"We are right in the sweet spot," he said. "While there is an enormous complement of Latino Lakers fans, for example, I think had we launched something in Spanish sooner, we might not have been able to do it the right way with the right voice and really understand what that customer and that fan wants."
Taking lessons from Hispanic sports fans "was important for us to figure out how to do it right," he continued, "as we learned with the old SAP [second audio programs] version of Spanish-language sports, that was so badly done, and frankly, so insulting to the Latino consumer that they basically turned away from the whole idea. Doing it well and being patient about doing it right was more important than just doing it fast."
The network will be a 24/7 sports network and reach areas between Fresno and San Diego counties, as well as areas in Hawaii and Clark County, Nev. U.S. Hispanic buying power and influence on the political spectrum attributed to the innovative move.
"All of the data suggests that the Latino community is actually that -- it's a community as opposed to a collection of individuals. So that community's voice can actually be louder and clearer than a very disparate group of people," Shuken said. "It's pretty clear that the largest segment in the nation and certainly in Southern California is the Latino community."
Advertising for Deportes
TWC laid out a marketing campaign in Southern California that included billboards in high-density Hispanic neighborhoods and radio and television advertising announcements in surrounding cities' highest rated radio and television stations.
Before the launch was announced, Deportes confirmed advertisers, including Subway restaurants, Carl's Jr. and Nissan. The network also established brand integration for live broadcasts with Hyundai and Sony Pictures. All commercials and advertising will be delivered in Spanish.
"Our current thinking -- and the only way we will change this thinking, and we might -- is if the community of fans and consumers wants us to," Shuken said.
Commentary by the Lakers will be in English, however, new Laker Steve Nash is known to speak Spanish with the media.
The new network will give a front seat to social media, not only in promoting the Spanish-language content, but also integrating it into programming as a way to interact with the targeted audience.
"Every tactical element of Time Warner Cable Deportes will speak to the (Latino) customer, and just as important, we'll listen to that customer," Shuken said. "Social media is really where we're going to drive that."