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Hispanic Summit: "Generating Revenue with Subscription Marketing"

The topic was supposed to be “Generating Revenue with Subscription Marketing,” but like a lot of conversations about Hispanic TV, Wednesday’s second panel discussion at the Fourth Annual Hispanic Television Summit quickly got broader than that.

The two day conference, being held in New York, is sponsored by Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable, presented some provocative ideas. Indeed though his presentation was garbled because some videos didn’t play, Mark Hotz, senior vice president of marketing for at NBC Universal, which owns Telemundo, urged the crowd to make technology key to selling Hispanics on subscription TV

Latinos, (and no doubt many others), he said,are getting confused by new technology and that “confusion is breeding indifference.” If that’s the case, he suggested, getting Latino viewers to try pay tiers and video on demand services just isn’t going to happen without a lot more education.

“ No more than six years ago programming was really the marketing,” Hotz said. Consumers were told “ ‘Try it and you’ll like it.’ There was no deep technology learning curve [to TV viewing.”

Now there is, he says. “The value of cable, satellite and now telcos is something Latinos needed to understand and we have to provide a path to get there by providing real life benefits .

Telemundo tried with a series of ads, one showing a family around a table discussing the cultural and entertainment benefits of cable and other technologies”

In Hotz’s view, .television viewers have turned into television “users,” but no on is teaching Latinos how to do it as the TV industry actually fragments. The television retailer, like a Best Buy or Circuit City, sells consumers on the programs. The service provider the cable company sells them on programming. Programmers sell them on programmers.But in that mix, he says, consumers get lost trying to figure out how to buy a new TV, get the right cable package, and then find the channels they want. None of those three segments—gear maker, service provider, or programmer—work together.

Nor probably, do some of the networks themselves. For example, Hotz said afterward, if MSNBC devoted a block of Saturday programming to news from South America, the total cable value proposition might make more sense. Likewise, other cable networks could do similar programs that at least acknowledge there are 44 million Latinos out there.

Otherwise the pay panel had interesting anecdotal stories that all tended to prove a good point, albeit one that’s been pointed out before: All Hispanics don’t fit in the same bag. Michelle Rosen, director of national marketing and strategy for HBO Sports pay-per-view, noted that increasingly Latino fight fans aren’t just buying fights featuring boxers from their own regions they’re just fight fans so that’s changed how HBO advertises those boxing cards.

Conversely, Clemente Cabello, executive director and general manager of AlternaTV, a service that provides Spanish-language programming from many Latin and South American countries (and claims 6 million subs) cites a survey that says 70% of first generation and 40% of second generation immigrants identify themselves by their country of origin. Those strong ties prove there’s an audience, and to find them, Cabello says, AlternaTV actually advertises itself in the foreign countries, like, say Ecuador, supposing relative or friends there will tell their U.S.peers that AlternaTV exists. The network does the same sort of thing with domestic travel agencies.

Carolina Padilla, director of multicultural marketing for EchoStar, explained three generations of U.S. Hispanics have different needs and expectations, But she says, “sooner or later” the overwhelming marketing opportunity is going to hit networks and advertisers right between the eyes, so, like Hotz, she urged the industry to introduce Latino viewers to all the viewing options out there. “We have to help the Hispanic consumer ramp up faster,” she said.”We’re going to see more complexity going forward.”