DiRienzo: The Community Has Grown Up; Shouldn’t Spanish TV and the Hispanic Market Media Spend?

Today’s Hispanic market is a phenomenon never before seen, and probably never to be repeated. Like all phenomena, it is replete with superlatives and opportunity; now comprising 1 in every 6 people in the U.S., this community continues to hone and flex its economic, political, and social power. Plus, unlike other ethnic groups, Hispanics continue to maintain their language, even while becoming part of the overall U.S. culture. Despite an explosion of Spanish media, the market is underserved in the types of programming available, and underspent.  

Prior to the launch of our first network, V-me did extensive focus group and market research. We consistently heard from consumers then what we still hear today – “Hispanic viewers want and deserve much more than novellas and variety shows. We are building better lives for our families and we need media to reflect where we are and where we are going.”  In other words, Latinos demand content that respects the intelligence of, and honors the diversity of this glorious mosaic of Spanish speakers.

It is no news to the Hispanic community – and is supported by many scholarly studies – that the media influence not only how non-Latinos view this community, but even how Latinos view themselves. The images portrayed by media can become a self-fulfilling prophecy as they filter into corporate board rooms and marketing strategies impacting how, where, and how much money companies devote to reaching our consumers. We cannot expect the corporate media spend on Spanish media to grow if the only thing corporate marketers hear and see from Spanish media is that this market is comprised mostly of unacculturated individuals. Without a change in content, we are not only misleading the corporations, we are misleading ourselves. Hence, Latino viewers have often strayed from Spanish TV (even though this is where their hearts are) because Spanish TV lacks the depth of programming diversity that they can find in English. 

Research tells us that these viewers are a marketer’s dream, with more disposable household income and a greater propensity to spend it. They also consume media in multiple platforms and use online and mobile media at record levels. These consumers challenge advertisers and marketers to reach beyond the same old, same old media plans to reach deeper into this market.  In so doing, these advertisers will find themselves rewarded at the bottom line.

They also call on all of us as media leaders who target the Hispanic market, to ensure that our community has smart programming that honors them rather than offers deleterious stereotypes. V-me launched just three years ago to provide this alternative to U.S. Hispanics and to offer new programming genres that have never been freely available in Spanish TV before. These programming options truly value Hispanics, respect their intelligence and paint the right images of our community to the broader U.S. and to the community itself.

At V-me we care about our community’s families, and want their entertainment time to be time well spent. That’s why we represent the only educational preschool programming block in Spanish and the best of nature, hi-tech, health and life programs. We recognize that Latinos play a critical role in shaping current affairs and, therefore, present a unique and in-depth news content block; highlighting the most relevant stories to our viewers and making them a part of the current events happening throughout the world. And because we believe that our viewers deserve quality entertainment, we also offer exciting and clever drama series with big production budgets that greatly engage our viewers.

V-me has truly positioned itself at the vanguard of a movement that sees Hispanics as part of — rather than apart from — the larger U.S. identity; and the V-me viewers are asking for more. Perhaps this is why V-me has become the fastest growing Spanish network in history. Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

*Carmen DiRienzo, President and CEO, V-me Media, Inc.