Hispanic TV Summit: MTV Tr3s, Comcast Tout Mobile, On-Demand

New York -- Although new-media platforms are still the wild west of content distribution, panelists at the Fifth Annual Hispanic Television Summit here expressed growing interest in mobile platforms to engage consumers.

In a panel discussion entitled “Attracting Audiences to Programs on New Media Platforms,” executives from MTV Tr3s, Comcast, POP Solutions, Turner Broadcasting System and AOL spoke about the power of video and text messaging to encourage viewer engagement on mobile platforms and other new technologies.

But while young consumers are the primary target of most new-media marketing campaigns, the panelists also noted that new technologies have been adopted by older generations of Hispanics.

“We don’t look at [mobile] as a ‘tune-in’ mechanism,” said Lucia Ballas-Traynor, senior vice president and general manager of MTV Tr3s, MTV Networks’ Latino-focused music channel. Ballas-Traynor explained that interactivity between the viewer and the network was a key to success and engagement.

At MTV Tr3s, viewers are encouraged to send SMS text messages to the network. The channel then presents the comments in real-time on a feed across the screen, allowing for viewers to comment on music videos or just give “shout-outs” to their friends.

More important, the network can use the comments to gauge viewer interests and understand their language. “The language we use is their voice,” Ballas-Traynor added.

She further noted that mobile devices are more than simply a platform for distributing content -- they’re also a means of interacting with the people that cable companies and content providers need to know the most about: their viewers.

“This is a personal device, 24 hours a day,” said Michael Steinwender, VP and chief technology officer of mobile-marketing firm POP Solutions. “As you use this device, you are capturing their wants and needs, likes and dislikes.”

But young consumers are not the only ones who use the new platforms. Mauro Panzera, senior director of multicultural marketing for Comcast, noted that in many Latin and South American countries, there was an unexpected jump in technological innovation over the past 10 years. Due to the geography of the countries and the difficulty in laying wire and cable, satellite-TV service and mobile-phone services overtook existing mechanisms for communication. “We went from the donkey to the jet,” Panzera said.

The result: In multigenerational immigrant households in the United States, many of the older members of the household used satellite TV and cell phones as a primary means of information and communication before coming to the country. They knew the technology, and there was a demand there that was not being met by current operators and content providers.

According to Panzera, Comcast’s On-Demand en Español service adjusted accordingly. With about 100 hours of content, the on-demand service was delivering 500,000-750,000 views per month. By adding more movies and music and appealing to a broader range of viewers than the young-adult demos so often targeted by such technology, the operator boosted viewership to 1.5 million views per month.

“Entertainment, mobility and voice,” Panzera said, are the keys to engaging the Hispanic consumer and consumers in general. But in an echo of Telemundo president Don Browne’s remarks at the summit the day before, the panel agreed that the quality and appeal of the content still reigns supreme.