Multicultural TV: Garcia Touts Importance of 'Authenticity' in Multicultural Programming

New York—There is a new buzzword for those in the multicultural space: "cultural fluency."

Lino Garcia, general manager of ESPN Deportes, stressed the importance of "authenticity" in programming towards a multicultural audience during a keynote discussion moderated by ESPN Radio host and First Take commentator Stephen A. Smith at B&C/Multichannel's Multicultural TV Summit on Tuesday.

"You can't just translate something," Garcia continued. "You have to really be able to [include] all the cultural nuances."

He said that when he first started people would just take a piece of literature and translate it into Spanish and "just kind of put it out there." He also mentioned how marketing to African-American audiences would consist of swapping out a White person for an African-American.

Garcia mentioned how when he started it was a "30-channel environment," with one African-American network (BET) and one Spanish-language cable network. He said now there are more than 500 channels with many that cater to multicultural audiences. "The door is open more and more for creatives to put out their product."

With networks trying to reach the advertiser-friendly younger audiences, Garcia said the ones who have the leg up in that regard are those who cater to multicultural audiences like The CW and Adult Swim. "[Their] content is attracting a multicultural audience and a younger audience," he said. "They understand their audiences."

Baseball is a major part of ESPN (and by extension ESPN Deportes). With such a large Hispanic population among Major League Baseball players, Garcia touted the importance of having a Spanish-language network for those who don't speak English very well.

"We provide a platform for a lot of the players in Major League Baseball [who come from] the Dominican Republic who don't speak English fluently," he said, commenting how those who are limited in what they can express to an English-speaking audience can expand much more with a Spanish-language one.

Garcia ended by giving his thoughts on where sports TV as a whole is headed, and said he sees more personalization coming to linear networks. He mentioned how it's already started on the second screen platforms; last week the NFL announced it's launching NFL Now, a personalized and customizable video network.

"For us, it's about the best available screen."