Multicultural TV: Programmers Vary Approaches to Targeting Content

That was one major takeaway from the programming panel “The Latest Business Benefits for Multicultural TV Content” at Tuesday’s Multicultural TV Summit.

A cross-section of industry pros serving the Asian, Hispanic and millennial audiences offered insights on their business strategies in a wide-ranging session moderated by Tom Umstead, programming and multimedia editor of Multichannel News. What emerged from the discussion was the sense of five unique sets of goals, all under the broader heading of multicultural content and all sharing many common themes.

“It’s about the content, but it’s also about adding layers of information about the content so that it connects,” explained Rebecca Simpson, director of international operations for Comcast, about her mission. “Content matters but also the way I can deliver it to people matters.”

Sang Cho, president and CEO of Asian programmer Mnet, said advertisers “are starting to get it” but that “it’s tough when you’re dealing with the slippery animal known as the millennial.” Agreed Simpson, “It’s not just multicultural but multigenerational that’s the challenge.”

Jake Katz, VP of audience insights and strategy at Revolt, said the all-music startup doesn’t explicitly target Spanish-speaking millennials but uses music taste overall as a guide to how it programs. “When we ask people what kind of music they like, they say ‘anything but country,’” he joked. “This generation has the broadest taste in music than any other in history, and that brings some interesting opportunity.” Later, of Sunday’s Super Bowl, he said that ads featuring African-American protagonists or gay couples, “will soon no longer be the exception, with an asterix next to them. They will be the norm.”

Umstead asked the panel about the trend toward aiming programming at English-speaking Hispanic audiences. Julian Giraldo, executive VP for Colombian supplier RCN, as well as Fred Medina, an executive VP at BBC Worldwide, both asserted the strong demand for Spanish-language content. “Our mission is building access,” Medina said. “We want to make sure we have rights to Spanish-language content across platforms so we can follow the audience wherever it wants our content.”