The Huffington Post, Univision/ABC, Fox, and NBC have all new news operations in English targeted at young Latinos. How has this new trend influenced the media landscape? In what news are these young Latinos interested? And how successful have these companies been?
For more than five decades, Univision has been active in this field, and the organization is (according to Nielsen ratings) already commanding around 75% of Spanish-speaking TV audiences in America through various cable and broadcast channels. There have been numerous nights, that Univision’s ratings were far better than the major English-language American networks.
Univision now has teamed up with ABC News to roll out a new network aimed at Hispanics but with programs in English. Cesar Conde, responsible for Univision networks said recently that this merger marks a very fascinating point in the history of our country, and he couldn’t be more right.
Millennials are calling themselves Hispanic, they are identifying as Hispanic, but if they get to college and they get their news and information in English, they will not necessarily get the same information as they would through a Spanish-language news outlet. They would think differently if the news coverage directed to them came in Spanish, and would be about what it means to be Latino in America says Lopez.
There’s just no evidence yet to indicate or prove that the new Univision/ABC channel is going to be a winning concept, as the network has been appearing on the air too short, and is the accompanying website in English.
NBC News is working harder than ever before to cooperate with its sister network Telemundo, a Spanish-language news provider., and recently we could witness the formal debut of MundoFox, a Spanish-language international network that is a partnership of News Corp.’s Fox International Channels with a Colombian network.
The joint venture between ABC and Univision is in many ways the most noteworthy effort by a major U.S. media outlet to capture large Hispanic audiences at times when the Spanish speaking demographic of the American population is notably growing.
Conde said that there is a clear increased influence of Latinos in practically every field in the U.S. From political and economic to cultural and social fronts we see this increase and this, of course, has various repercussions. Among the areas that are underserved is providing culturally relevant offerings for Hispanics in the English language to balance everything that;s already been done on the Spanish-language front.
He admits that this effort is uncharted territory, and ABC also takes its share, which has already led to an important shift in the newsroom culture of the network. To give you an idea of that shift: Since a few weeks, all ABC News workers can take Spanish lessons at no cost!
It all started in 2011, when Ben Sherwood, ABC News President, was meeting with Conde and several other Univision execs to discuss the coverage of the upcoming 2012 American presidential elections, and after that, the partnership was set up modestly.
Univision folks were wondering if Jorge Ramos could in some way be participating in one of the ABC News debates, and that appeared no problem at all, says Sherwood, and it wasn’t long before bigger plans beckoned. At the same time, Univision announced that it had plans for setting up a series of cable networks that would be involving news, sport, and entertainment to add to its already existing channels.
ABC had the idea to build a great new channel targeted at English-speaking (mostly young) Hispanics that would include culturally relevant programs, Sherwood said. It’s just as simple as that, and also just as bold as that. Officials of both networks say that the still evolving formula will focus on entertainment, culture, health, food, music, and pop, while incorporating lifestyle programs as well.
While Univision journalists and executives are lauding ABC’s tradition in news broadcasting, is Sherwood pointing out that his network is bringing an additional and crucial element, negotiating power. People who know the Industry are saying that ABC’s parent company, Disney, may relatively easy convince various satellite and cable television providers to be carrying the new station, due to the indispensability of several of its other cable properties, for example the ESPN channels.
Jorge Ramos is the Univision anchor on who tens of millions of Americans are relying to tell them all about the U.S. news. But many of their children aren’t among the ones who listen to Jorge Ramos. Like so many other Latinos who grew up in America, they are used to getting all their news in the English language.
The appeal of working in close cooperation with Univision on this interesting project is readily apparent for ABC. All three big American broadcast networks are not attracting any significant number of Hispanic viewers to their newscasts, while at the same time they know that roughly 16% of Americans are Latino.
That significant share will probably even rise more because in the period 2005 – 2015, Hispanics were accounting for over half of the entire U.S. population growth. immigration from Mexico to the U.S. has slowed over the past years, but most of the explosive Hispanic population growth in America consisted of American-born Latinos.
They feel comfortable to move between media in both Spanish and English, says Mark Hugo Lopez who is associate director at Pew Hispanic Center. He says most of these Hispanics may speak English predominantly when among friends, and he thinks that this is exactly what the ABC News/Univision cooperation is wanting to exploit.
The logic of the new formula is strong, though the strategy comes with its typical risks. Latinos who speak English are currently turning to the exactly the same sources of news as everybody else, such as big cable news networks, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, or the major newspapers. But Spanish-language news channels are usually giving greater coverage to things, events, and stories that are affecting Latinos in a direct way, such as developments in the Caribbean and Latin America, immigration, or voting rights.
The Pew Hispanic Center conducted a research study in 2010 that revealed that Hispanics who relied on media outlets in English did in no way understand that year’s census as Hispanics who were depending on news in Spanish. They were, for example, often not at all aware that the U.S. authorities could in no way be using the answers given in the questionnaires of the census for the deportation of people who were here illegally, Lopez explains.