Published July 19, 2012
The war among U.S. media giants out to conquer their share of the rich $1 trillion Hispanic market is getting fierce.
"We think the established Spanish-language networks today are trapped in the same formula that ABC, CBS and NBC were 25 years ago," the CEO of Fox International Channels, Hernan Lopez, told Forbes magazine.
Forbes talked to Lopez on the occasion of this month's launch of the Spanish-language channel MondoFox, News Corp.'s new national Spanish-language broadcast television channel.
With MundoFox, Rupert Murdoch's media empire joins the battle to win Latino viewers already being fought by other media in this country like Disney and Comcast.
In the United States, according to the 2010 Census, there are 52 million Hispanics and by 2050 they are expected to number some 133 million, or one-third of the population.
Notable among Spanish-language media is the hegemony exercised by Univision, a television network seen in 97 percent of Spanish-speaking households.
During the week of the Fourth of July, Univision thrashed its English-language rivals for audience share in the 18-49 demographic that advertisers consider the jackpot.
It was Univision's three hit primetime "telenovelas," or soap operas, that had the biggest audience among viewers ages 18 to 49, according to Nielsen.
Judging by the numbers, Forbes said that large advertisers have an enormous interest in getting noticed by the Hispanic market, not only for its growth but also because of its youth - the average age is 27 compared to an average of 42 among non-Hispanic whites.
MundoFox, according to Lopez, will invest $50 million to be able to cover 75 percent of the approximately 10 million Hispanic households in the U.S.
Forbes sees Univision as having the advantage of telenovelas, but said there's room for new competitors, given that this year the network had a 75 percent share of the Hispanic market compared with 79 percent a decade ago.
"If you take the average schedule of any channel for Latinos and you throw a dart at it, you're going to find a telenovela, and that telenovela hasn't changed much in the last 20 years," says Lopez, who intends to bring MundoFox top quality productions and TV scripts.
"The Hispanic market is no longer being viewed as a niche minority market for a lot of companies," Alex Ruelas, co-founder of Texas-based marketing agency LatinWorks, told Forbes. "It's becoming a fairly major part of the mainstream, and it's helping to reshape the overall universe of consumers in a way that's a bit surprising to people."