Although the ecosystem of the Hispanic television market is certainly growing (witness the recent additions of Mundo Fox and new Univision channels), it is far from the “500 channel-universe” John Malone predicted for the general market in 1994. Hispanics continue to be underserved, particularly in the pay TV area. And while new channels are expected to produce programming alternatives beyond soccer matches and telenovelas in the coming years, the road ahead is challenging.
I know that firsthand. Over the past 15 years, my company has fought hard to secure distribution for ethnic television channels that now satisfy the needs of Japanese, Russian, German, Brazilian and Hispanic people living and working in the U.S. Yet, in retrospect, our fight was perhaps a lot easier than what lies ahead.
We often heard that language was the issue… Spanish vs. English, or vice versa. The real challenge, however, may be to produce programming that incorporates (for Hispanics) key elements of their new country while retaining cultural significance as well. And, this—of course—is all without forgetting to keep a wide appeal in order to score a high rating. No small feat for any new channel, but certainly possible.
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