Authenticity Key in Programming to Latinos

NEW YORK — Programmers and distributors looking to reach Hispanic viewers will have to employ a multitude of strategies, including providing culturally relevant programming in multiple languages and on numerous distribution platforms, to be successful, Hispanic TV Summit panelists said last week.

Linda Ong, president of brand consultancy TruthCo., said bicultural viewers who identify themselves as equally Latino and American are key to reaching a majority of Hispanic viewers, because they are socially integrated with all types of people while still identifying with their Hispanic culture. From a social media perspective, biculturals are tweeting and talking about Hispanic programming in English, which also reaches a general-market audience.

“The best way to reach the audience is through biculturals — you can reach the abuela who doesn’t speak English because the bicultural is doing the translation,” she said. “You can reach the children who are learning Spanish for the first time because they’re learning from their parents.”

Aldo DiFelice, president of Canadian-based TLN Telelatino Network, said it’s important to have both Spanish-and English-language programming to effectively reach Hispanic viewers.

For programming to resonate with Hispanic audiences, however, it has to be authentic and relevant to viewers, according to Discovery U.S. Hispanic vice president of content Bilai Joa Silar.

And relevancy is about more than just using Hispanic actors or actresses, Televisa USA chief creative officer Michael Garcia said: “If you really want to get the audience, you have to make things that show and portray the lives of Hispanic viewers. They want to see that their lives matter, and they want to see a character that reflects the reality of their life.”

Aymeric Genty, CEO of Alterna’TV, which distributes international multi-language channels, said it’s important to have a mix of both country- or region-specific channels and more general entertainment services. Alternative digital platforms are also key, he added.

“We have to understand where the new viewing trends and consumption of video are and make sure that all the channels are represented on all platforms,” Genty said.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.