New networks are now going after Generation Y Latinos

Rise of Bicultural TV Networks

Fusion, a new television venture by ABC and Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, will be launching this October. Last year, a similar joint venture television network called Mundo Fox (a partnership between Fox Network and Colombian broadcaster RCN) also launched. Both are joining an already crowded market of TV networks looking to target the Gen Y Latino, joining the ranks of Nuvo TV, MTVTres and Mun2. Multicultural PR Generation YThese new networks are banking on the Gen Y Latino segment, a group demographers consider the biggest population growth segment and marketers forecast as the biggest opportunity market in the U.S.

Just as this is occurring, mainstream networks are also tweaking their programming to increase their appeal to this audience. Examples of this can be seen in the success of ABC’s Modern Family starring Colombian actress Sofia Vergara and The Voice’s casting of Latina pop star sensation Shakira.

Gen Y, U.S. born Hispanics Trend Younger

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates the median age for all Latinos to be 27 years of age, however, the median age for Hispanics born in the U.S. is just 18. Today, 64 percent of all U.S. born Hispanics were born here, they speak both English and Spanish and are able to integrate aspects of both American and Latin cultures. Although nothing is set in stone and there are several factors that may have an impact on the growth of the Latino market (economy and changes in immigration laws), demographers believe that the Latino population will continue to grow as a result of births – not immigration – which will, in turn, drive future growth of U.S.-born teen and young-adult population

Until Now, Recipe for Long-Term Success has Come from Programming from Abroad

It will be interesting to see how these new networks will perform in the future. In the next few years we will see some be successful while others will go through a series of transformations, some may just go out of business. Univision and Telemundo’s recipe for success all these years has been mostly to provide programming that mirrors the popular formats seen in Latin America. This includes primetime telenovela (soap opera) programming, sports from Mexico and news coverage of topics important such as immigration and current events in Latin America. This format has made Univision the biggest media company targeting Hispanics and the fifth most viewed television network in the U.S., regardless of language. Despite the fact that the growth of the Latino population is currently being driven by Latino births in the U.S., Univision, which broadcasts primarily in Spanish, continues to grow. For the first time ever in July, Univision Television Network became the highest-rated U.S. network (regardless of language) in the coveted 18-49 adult demographic.

However, there is also a contradiction in the research. Studies shows that Latinos are consuming less media in Spanish as they continue to assimilate. Overall, 45 percent of Latinos watch TV mostly in English compared to 69 percent of second generation Latinos and 83 percent for third generation and higher2. These new media outlets targeting Generation Y Latinos are paying attention to this new research and believe that it makes a strong business case for targeting this demographic.

It’s yet to be seen whether Gen Y Latinos will flock to Fusion and other networks targeting their demographic with programming that resembles more that of U.S. networks. Will acculturated Latinos continue to watch some of Univision’s shows? Is there a market for these new networks or will Gen Y Latinos reject these new media outlets in favor of the same news and entertainment preferred by their non-Latino peers?  If we look at previous attempts to develop networks and content tailored specifically to this acculturated target, such as Univision Radio’s Latino Mix stations and Mun2, I think this business model is likely to be successful. My advice to these new networks is the same that I would give to any marketer looking to target the Generation Y Latino.

Here are a few tips:

    1. Be genuine. Make sure that those designing strategy and execution are part of the target consumer you are trying to capture.
    2. Become a brand so that those consumers who can identify with the Latino culture know that you are speaking to them. When talking about Gen Y Latinos, Latino is more of an identity and less about their country of origin or whether these consumers are communicating in English, Spanish or Spanglish. A Gen Y Latino consumer can be someone who is third-generation U.S. born or someone who is 1/2 Latino.
    3. Do your homework – get to know the cultural sensitivities while understanding that this consumer is also part of the mainstream market.
    4. Become part of the community and support causes that are important to this target consumer, such as access to college education.
    5. Finally, understand that this is an evolving market which requires an ongoing education process.


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