Skip to main content

Liberty Will Strengthen Canales ñ

Anaheim, Calif. -- Liberty Media Group will add two new
Spanish-language channels to its Canales ñ digital lineup -- a women's channel and a
kids' channel "with a very strong brand" -- Liberty vice president David
Jensen said.

And within the next year, Liberty's Hispanic digital
tier is expected to double its total video channels to a full transponder of 14 to 16
video channels plus a complement of Spanish audio channels.

Jensen unveiled those plans at the CTAM-sponsored Hispanic
marketing workshop prior to the Western Show here last week.

Panelists at the session said cable must do a better job of
speaking directly to prospective subscribers through targeted marketing and a stronger
roster of Spanish-language programming.

Jensen said operators have lacked the content and the
bandwidth to provide solid Hispanic programming, but that's changing.

He asked operators to save room for this type of niche
programming when putting together their digital-channel lineups.

"The promise of digital is much brighter than just
tonnage," he said. "Please don't let a few big programming libraries
dominate all of the bandwidth on digital."

Liberty suggested that operators sell the Canales ñ tier
for $9.95 per month. Jensen said the product can help to drive first-time sales among
Hispanic cable "nevers."

According to Peter Tortorici, president and CEO of
Telemundo, which is co-owned by Liberty and Sony Corp., Telemundo intends to fill a void
by developing Hispanic programming created specifically for U.S. audiences, rather than
just importing programming from other countries.

But it will take more than devoting bandwidth to
Spanish-language programming for operators to sign up Hispanic subscribers, panelists
predicted. Perhaps the most obvious -- but often overlooked -- piece of advice is to make
sure that there's somebody available at the customer-service level who can speak the
language.

"When you call 1-800-Cable-Me in Spanish, you get hung
up on," Jensen said. "If you call to buy cable and get a disconnect from the
cable company, that's bad."

Liz Castells-Heard, president of Los Angeles-based
advertising agency Ad Americas, encouraged operators and programmers to find marketing
partners that understand the Hispanic culture and that can write in a generic Spanish
dialect, rather than in one that is specific to a single Latin American country.

Ad Americas helped MediaOne to target Hispanic consumers in
its Southern California cluster.

Paula Andrews Dowd, director of marketing communications
for MediaOne in that region, advised operators to conduct consumer research in Spanish.
When it comes to marketing to Hispanics, Andrews Dowd said, it's important to not
merely translate copy from English, but to "transcreate" and to test materials
in Spanish.

Properly targeting the Hispanic community could take some
work, but the potential rewards are great. According to Castells-Heard, U.S. Hispanics
currently represent a market of more than $375 billion per year. By the year 2020, she
added, 17 percent of the entire U.S. population will be Hispanic.

"If you want to target this group,"
Castells-Heard said, "talk to them in Spanish. It's the language of choice, and
it's the language of comfort."