Digital Diversity Key to Streaming Success

Key art for Telemundo's Billboard Latin Music Awards
(Image credit: Telemundo)

After a year that saw the largest civil-rights demonstrations and protests against police brutality since the 1960s, new research is highlighting the need for programmers and operators to do a better job of serving multicultural audiences if they want to thrive in the emerging streaming and digital landscape. 

“The size of opportunity [with multicultural audiences] just continues to grow,” said Adriana Waterston, senior VP of insights and strategy at Horowitz Research, which has researched multicultural audiences for several decades.

Horowitz Research surveys show that multicultural audiences are embracing pay TV and digital technologies at higher rates than the normal population. For example, 42% of the population subscribes to a cable operator such as Comcast, but higher subscription rates than that can be found among African-Americans (50%), Asian-Americans (47%) and Hispanics (43%). Multicultural audiences are also avid consumers of streaming media, with 72% of African-Americans streaming weekly, 73% of Asian-Americans and 70% of Hispanics, versus 68% of the overall population, according to Horowitz. 

“Obviously viewers have been migrating to consume content on digital platforms, and COVID-19 has really has really accelerated that trend,” Romina Rosado, executive VP of entertainment and content strategy for NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, said. “But some of these trends hit Hispanic media brands such as Telemundo in a different way, because our audience is just so much younger. The median age of the U.S. Hispanic is 29, which is significantly younger than the non-Hispanic white audience, and they are consuming content in completely different ways.”

That has helped produce a record-setting year on digital media, with streaming on the Telemundo app showing a 38% jump between January and November of 2020 compared to a year earlier. 

“We crossed 134 million followers this year on social media, and we’re seeing over 31 million engagements every month on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook,” Rosado noted. Telemundo also has about 11.3 million subscribers on YouTube, according to audience-based social media measurement firm Shareablee.

Despite the importance of multicultural customers with their avid consumption of video, a recent survey from Horowitz Research found widespread discontent with TV and the media. Fifty-one percent of African-American respondents, 36% of Hispanics, 64% of Asians and 58% of LGBTQ individuals said they are not represented enough in U.S. TV shows and movies. 

A Nielsen analysis of the 300 most-viewed programs on TV and streaming reinforced those perceptions. Even though Hispanics comprise 18.8% of the overall population, Hispanic talent appeared in only 5.1% of the screen time on broadcast TV programs, 3% on cable shows and 10.1% on SVOD programs. African-Americans, with 14.1% of the total population, were on screen just 7.8% of the time on cable shows, versus a 24.7% screen-time share on broadcast and 18.8% on SVOD. 

“I think 2020 has shown light on the fact that these audiences have not only been underserved and redlined,” Waterston said. “These audiences are well aware of the problems. If you are not doing the due diligence to understand what these different diverse groups need, then you need to examine the implicit biases or systemic structural reasons that are preventing you from addressing the needs of these consumers.”