The Cable Show 2014: OTT's Key to Multicultural Nets

Multicultural programmers Wednesday gave pay TV distributors credit for trying to serve diverse audiences, but said the hurdles to obtaining carriage made it inevitable that those content providers will seek over-the-top avenues to reach more viewers.

Tom Mohler, CEO of Olympusat Holdings, which distributes some 67 channels, many of them Spanish-language HD outlets, said he thought there would be rising activity in the Hispanic-programming over-the-top arena. Hispanics in the U.S. average age in the 24-27 range and are heavy users of smartphones, he said, making them prime targets for mobile video products. Getting Spanish-language content on pay TV also means buying other programming before getting to the international tiers, which is a barrier, and operators have bandwidth constraints that OTT services don’t have.

Mohler and fellow panelists Alex Alonso, VP of marketing at mun2, and Timothy Boell, senior VP of content distribution and marketing at Asia TV USA Ltd. (Zee TV Americas), complimented Michelle Webb, executive director of content strategy and acquisition at Verizon’s FiOS 1 Local Channels, for the way FiOS presents international programming. But the content providers in general said the pay TV category only rates about a “C” grade in terms of meeting multicultural audiences’ desires for content serving their communities in their languages.

Webb said FiOS and other distributors first focused on adequately serving the  large African-American and Latino markets. Now, through TV, mobile and digital methods, FiOS wants to reach other multicultural communities. “We are focusing our energy on how we can expand and offer more for those groups,” she said.

On a second panel at the same Multicultural TV breakfast event at the Cable Show, José E. Vélez-Silva, senior director of multicultural marketing at Comcast Cable, said Comcast has moved beyond early offerings that tried to stockpile as much Spanish-language programming as possible all in one package. “The reality is all Hispanic households are not the same,” he said. Now Comcast is putting together packages tailored to diverse interests.

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Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.