Univision in English? Finally It Gets in Step With the Hispanic Market

By Edward T. Rincon

It must not have been an easy decision for Univision, the Spanish-language media giant, to join ABC in creating an English-language TV network and digital platform aimed at U.S. Latinos. Why? Because it departs sharply from Univision’s long-standing position that Spanish is the best way to communicate with Hispanics in this country.

As described by Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks, the joint venture is “an extension of our vision to deliver the most relevant news and information, regardless of language, to all Hispanics.” The new network will have anchors and correspondents in major U.S. cities from Univision and ABC. Although Conde appears to minimize the importance of language, programming in English marks a major change in Univision’s strategy.

For some time, the idea that Spanish is the route to the Hispanic market has been firmly etched in the minds of U.S. advertisers, with some Spanish-language advocates making effective emotional appeals about the virtues of the Spanish-language with slogans like “Spanish is the language of the heart” and “We make love in Spanish.”

Media-ratings companies added to the Spanish-language case by omitting country of birth in their ratings, which could have shown marked differences in the television viewing habits of native and foreign-born Hispanics. The economic payoff for Univision and the Spanish-language media industry has been huge: an estimated 90 percent of all advertising dollars directed to U.S. Hispanics are delivered in Spanish.

So why would Univision want to change its formula for success?

First, does it make sense to invest 90 percent of advertising dollars into Spanish-language media when 63 percent of U.S. Hispanics are native-born and primarily use English-language media? This is not a new trend, and is supported by numerous independent studies of U.S. Hispanics. And it will come to be reflected in television ratings, as the ratings companies, in response to litigation and protests by community and industry groups, break down Hispanic viewers by country of birth.

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Categories: NGL News

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