Hispanic TV Industry: Expanding and Contracting like the Universe?

07 Feb 2007|Miguel Winebrenner

In 1 BC (one year “Before Census” i.e., the year 2000) there were only a handful of Hispanic TV content providers – Univision, Telemundo, Galavision, and maybe a few more in some markets (all broadcast). Then, after the Census figures were published in 2001 operators (cable and satellite alike) began to expand or create Hispanic tiers within their packaged offerings. Now, there may be a trend towards contraction, or consolidation in the marketplace.

Around 2001 some large MSOs like Cox Communications added up to 25 channels in some of their divisions while DirecTV and Dish continued adding to their line-up. Then by 2005, there were between 60 and 75 Hispanic channels that were either being carried, or were in the process of being carried. Among these channels were unknowns like Sorpresa (kids channel in Spanish), Caracol (Colombian channel), de Pelicula (movie channel), Grandes Documentales (educational channel) as well as properties of better-known brands like History Channel en Espanol, Discovery en Espanol, ESPN Deportes, Fox Sports en Espanol, CNN en Espanol, etc.

This surge in content probably came as a result of over-eagerness on behalf of the industry (since it had been underserved for so long), and on the belief that if given lots of channels, Hispanics would pay a premium for a tier dedicated to them. Regardless of the reasons, there is definitely ample content out there, and it is getting better in terms of quality and relevance. However, the full potential of the Hispanic packages have not been reached. For operators, the challenge is to attract more Hispanics to the package- to create revenue for that end of the business, which brings in new subscribers for their main business as well (since they need to subscribe to a basic package before getting the Hispanic tier). And for content providers, the challenge is to get as much ad support as possible.

The struggle on the content side to garner ad support is what will probably drive contraction in the industry. Basically, channels will realize (or already have) that the few Hispanic eyeballs are being spread too thinly among all channels (except Univision, which is a mammoth). Therefore, the only chance of getting advertisers interested will be to begin a campaign to reduce the number of channels. This campaign will involve heavy lobbying with operators (who control who gets carried and who doesn’t) and it may involve some strategic alliances among content providers.

None of this may happen, but I tend to think that just as the universe seeks to balance and counter-balance itself, so too will the Hispanic TV industry.

To see operator Hispanic packages go to:

www.cox.com
www.comcast.com
www.timewarnercable.com
www.directv.com
http://www.dish.com

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