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Lessons from the Hispanic Summit

10/11/2010 12:01 AM Eastern

For the eight years since the inception of
the annual Hispanic Television Summit, we looked
for something new in the market to incorporate into
the latest agenda in order to “keep it fresh.”

This formula has served us well and the event is
now the signature annual conference for those in the business
of Hispanic television. (In fact, attendance at the most recent
Summit on Sept. 29 broke all past records.)

We have always been confident that there would be something
new to discuss. Yet, until I looked back at my
notes and records of the past eight years, I had not
realized just how dramatically the Hispanic TV industry
had actually changed.

The changes that are most noteworthy are those
that reflect the overall TV viewing audience in
America — and perhaps more importantly, they
hold an increasing influence on viewing behavior
across all U.S. TV households.

Audience attraction: Eight years ago, at the very
first summit, the idea was to address the Hispanic
viewer as “the audience that will no longer be ignored.”
In less than a decade, these viewers have
proven that they are a priority. Th is audience has
placed Univision in the ratings leadership position multiple
times over. This had never happened eight years ago.

First time: Many of us saw our very first mobile telecast
when an AT&T spokesperson demonstrated it at the Hispanic
TV Summit seven years ago. Today, mobile is one tactic that
was important to Levi’s in their recently-launched platform
campaign on Hispanic cable TV. (As recently as three years
ago, Levi’s wasn’t advertising on Hispanic TV, and now it is
making significant investment in Hispanic TV advertising.)

Tradition and wondering,“what’s next?” Eight years ago,
the award recipient for the Lifetime of Achievement in Hispanic
Television deservedly went to Don Francisco, host of Sabado
Gigante
, the longest-running weekly television series in the
world. He represented the established norm of Spanish-language
television. What was different this year is that panelists
queried aloud, “What would the state of Hispanic TV be like after
long-time talents retire?”

Cross-cultural appeal: This year’s award recipient was the
remarkable Oscar De La Hoya. He is equally popular among
non-Hispanics and Hispanic fans. No other talent has generated
more pay-per-view transactions or revenue for pay TV
than he has. There is no one who can “ignore” De La
Hoya’s fan base.

Responding to market changes: In the past, Hispanic
TV was primarily Spanish-language TV. At
this year’s summit, we repeatedly heard how this is
changing. Rentrak reported 30% of viewing time in
Hispanic pay TV households was on channels other
than the traditional Spanish-language broadcasters.
Cox reported how its programming packaging reflects a more diversified set of content off erings than
they offered to Hispanic consumers eight years ago.
And longtime advertiser Procter & Gamble spoke
about “new and improved” strategies for reaching
new customers through Hispanic TV.

Nuances of the language debate: Perhaps my biggest “learning”
from the Summit is that the conversation may sound familiar,
but it now has a totally different meaning. The most
glaring example of this is the issue of language: English, Spanish
or both? For those who say this is the same old conversation,
I suggest that they take another look. Today’s Hispanic
viewing audience is totally different and the impact of language
has a new and even more important meaning.


Joseph Schramm is managing partner of Schramm Marketing
Group, a New York-based event production and promotion
agency.
September