New York -- Hispanic television networks can better differentiate themselves by providing compelling content, a panel of top programming executives said at the Multichannel News/Broadcasting & Cable Hispanic Television Summit here Wednesday.
Fox Deportes executive vice president and general manager Vincent Cordero said that major events, particularly sports, will continue to drive viewership.
"It's about product that really speaks to the audience," Cordero said at the panel moderated by Multichannel News programming editor Tom Umstead. "It's a fragmented market out there. There is a real opportunity to deliver tent pole programming."
While sports remains strong, Cinelatino chairman James McNamara said movies are still what draws the biggest Latino audiences.
"Movies are overpowering in terms of popularity," McNamara said."They don't require the nine-month commitment that a novela might."
Each of the panelists agreed that language no longer defines networks. Most Hispanic households have at least one member that speaks English, and younger family members speak it almost exclusively. That, and the fact that in many large cities, Hispanics are becoming the majority, has forced even mainstream programmers to address the market.
"The issue is really, ‘Does it entertain?' " McNamara said, adding that as the Latino population grows, Hispanic programming is no longer niche programming.
"Hispanic is the new mainstream," McNamara said. "There is no escaping this demographic." Several mainstream networks have created Hispanic characters for their most popular shows. That has caused traditional Hispanic networks to seek out content that is both mainstream while speaking to Latino culture and concerns.
At Mun2, a sister network to long-time Hispanic broadcast network Telemundo, general manager Diana Mogollon said that young Hispanics are the growth engine.
"The sweet spot is the young Latino," Mogollon said, adding that demographic wants "culturally relevant and language agnostic" programming. She pointed to popular Mun2 reality show Jenni Rivera Presents Chiquis and Raq-C as an example.
Boxing remains a hot property for Hispanic programmers and for pay per view events. One of the biggest fight promoters in the world, Golden Boy Promotions, founded by former champ Oscar De La Hoya, said the challenge is to find new Hispanic boxers.
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said De La Hoya's popularity and status in the Latino community helps attract fighters, adding that Mexican boxer Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is becoming a compelling draw.
"Boxing has such deep cultural roots within the fabric of Hispanic family life, soccer too," Schaefer said. You can see the impact of sports - boxing is definitely here to stay. It is up to us to continue to feed that talent and create the next generation of pay-per-view stars."
For operators, the trick continues to be packaging, said Time Warner Cable vice president of programming Maureen Lane.
Lane said Time Warner Cable focuses on offering Latino customers the right mix of linear networks, event programming like sports, high-definition and video on demand in its markets.
She noted on the event side, Time Warner Cable isn't just focusing on major events like the World Cup soccer matches, but local contests specific to each market. She pointed to the cable operator's offering of Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Major League Baseball games in Spanish, adding the company is working on offering the same for local NBA basketball.
The main thing is to make sure you have quality programming at the right price," Lane said.
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