Latino web series are the new black

By Adrian Carasquillo (NBCLatino.com)

Everyone from independent filmmakers to executives at Latino-centric television channels are betting that web video with content aimed at U.S. Hispanics is a winning formula in the age of the new-fangled wild wild web.

“We set out to create a new American Latino sitcom, which speaks more to the realities of English-language Latinos in the United States,” says Julia Grob, producer and actress in East Willy B, a multiplatform Latino web series about gentrification coming to their neighborhood.

The six-episode pilot season has garnered 100,000 views thus far. As the team prepares to launch its second season, it has asked for “50k in 50 days” on crowdfunding site Kickstarter. The $50,000 would go towards funding full production of the second season. The show has raised $10,540 in 16 days thus far.

Grob says East Willy B exists because it is something people want which was unavailable before.

“The impetus was the void we see in the mainstream cable networks and their limited visions of Latinos portrayed over and over again,” she says. “For most of us, it’s far from our lives and realities. And we chose the digital space to tell our stories because of all the possibilities it has.”

Grob may feel the traditional networks have missed the boat when it comes to Latinos, but growing Latino-focused channels are also eyeing web video content for Hispanics.

Mun2, a channel aimed at the bicultural young Latino audience, has three web series coming up in the coming months. Mun2 is owned by NBCLatino’s parent company Comcast.

“We have three series to present during the next month for next year,” says Jose Marquez, Vice President of Interactive Strategy for Mun2. While Marquez says he can’t name the shows because they are not ready to be announced, he stresses that Mun2 is launching them on the web rather than on the actual network because of the opportunity online video offers.

“The shows benefit from no required length,” Marquez says. “Viewing habits are different online. On TV people sit down for half an hour to an hour. Online it’s quite different. It varies greatly and gives the ability to experiment in length as well as in the number of episodes.”

NuvoTV is another competitor for the “American Bi-cultural Latino” aged 18 to 49 and has experimented with launching its shows on the web first to measure success and receive feedback before the shows make it onto television.

“One thing we did, is we tested “Fight Factory,” which is a Mixed Martial Arts behind the scenes reality series,” says Rafael “Rafe” Oller, the Senior Vice President of Marketing at nuvoTV. “It did incredibly well, the views were incredible and it over-indexed by comparison to industry standards.”

The channel did the same thing with “Curvy Girls,” a show about plus-sized models and is producing video beauty tips and fashion tips in conjunction with show “Model Latina” as well as five minute long food and recipe mini-shows.

“Online video is not about showing how much you spend or who is involved but about how great the idea is,” Oller says.

“People are looking for entertainment and it doesn’t matter where it comes from anymore.”

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