Where the Hispanic Viewers Are (Not Just on Univision)

Trying to Reach US Hispanics? You Can't Bet Everything on Spanish-Language TV Networks

By Published on .

Dave Morgan
Dave Morgan

This may come as a surprise, but a large proportion of the US Hispanics cannot be reached with advertising on Spanish-language TV networks. Is it that they're not watching TV? No. In fact, according to Nielsen data, US Hispanic households watch more TV than average. However, contrary to what you would think, many US Hispanic viewers watch no Spanish-language programming on TV, and many more watch very little.

Hispanic audiences are critical to the future of US media and marketing. According to the US Census, Hispanics now account for more than 15% of the US population, and are projected to grow to more than 25% by 2050. This has led many to speculate that Spanish-language media, and television particularly, will eventually capture a corresponding share of US advertising and marketing expenditures. Nice in concept, but it won't happen.

I have a particular interest in the issue. I am part of an Hispanic household. My wife is Mexican. Our daughters are both Mexican and American. To each other, they speak Spanish as their primary language. To me, they speak English. Their Mexican identity impacts our food, clothing, entertainment, travel, current affairs conversations and much of our product purchasing. Nevertheless, while they watch some Spanish-language movies (on TV, in theaters?), we watch virtually no Spanish-language network television. We are a classic bilingual US Hispanic household. We watch plenty of TV, but are hard to find if you target us with traditional planning metrics.

To better understand how to find Hispanics on TV, Simulmedia, mapped Nielsen's national viewing panel (All Minute Level Respondent Data, including Hispanic identifiers) with the daily anonymous viewing behaviors of 30 million Americans, which we license from cable, satellite and teleco system operators and from TiVo. It turns out that my family's TV viewing patterns reflect US Hispanics in general.

Not only did we confirm that US Hispanics spent the majority of their TV viewing time watching English-language programming, but it turns out that 37% of US Hispanics cannot be reached at all on major Spanish-language television networks (such as Univision, Telemundo, ESPN Deportes, Gala, GOL TV, Mun2, Telefutura, Tr3s, Aza). While the monthly reach of these Spanish-language networks was very strong among Spanish-only (93%) and mostly-mostly Spanish households (88%), it was significantly weaker with bilingual households (71%) and very low into mostly-English (30%) and English-only Hispanic households (9%).

The question most marketers and their agencies should be asking is : Are there unique places to find Hispanic TV viewers outside of Spanish-language networks, or are their English-language viewing habits similar to most other Americans? Actually, the non-Spanish viewing of some Hispanics is unique and quite predictable sometimes.

According to Simulmedia data, Hispanic viewers are heavy viewers of late night sports. On a recent Wednesday in late night, they were were 54% of SPEED Channel's audience mid-week, 53% of GOLF Channel's and 40% of ESPN News. In daytime, midweek, Hispanics were 68% of the audience of LOGO, 37% of the audience of G4 and 25% of Planet Green's audience. Surprisingly, at least to me, Hispanics are 30% more likely to watch FOX Business on Sunday mornings than non-Hispanics.

Keep in mind, this data was generated by Simulmedia leveraging anonymous set-top box data and Nielsen national audience data, but shouldn't be interpreted as verified output from Nielsen. It doesn't include over-the-air viewing data, which is certainly a factor in analyzing Hispanic viewership. But the point here is that Hispanics can be found all over the dial, if you know where to look.

To be clear, Spanish-language networks are extraordinary and unmatched when it comes to delivering US Hispanic viewers, particularly those in Spanish-online and mostly-Spanish homes. Networks like Univsion and Telemundo and their local stations are very powerful and very valuable media properties and will only get more so as the US Hispanic population grows. However, just as Hispanic immigrants watch non-Spanish programming, so too will these companies, I suspect, make English language content more and more part of their programming. They have to. The numbers and their viewers tell them to.

However, Hispanic marketing is certain to become more and more integrated with general market activities, and consumer marketers and their agencies will have to complement their Spanish-language advertising on TV with initiatives to reach Hispanics uniquely wherever they are, many times in non-Spanish programming. When my wife and daughters are watching English-language programming, they are still thinking and acting Latin. So should their advertising.

Dave Morgan is CEO and founder of New York-based Simulmedia, a TV ad targeting company. Simulmedia uses data-driven technology to help improve the relevance and results of TV advertising. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/davemorgannyc.
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