In an exclusive interview Cynthia Hudson, SVP and managing director of CNN en Español and Hispanic strategy at CNN, explains how COVID-19 has moved her company to build new offerings in tune with audiences new content needs as well as to optimize content delivery across different screens.
In Q1 2020 CNN en Español’s linear TV audiences have seen triple digit growth rates compared to Q3 2019. The growth has been buoyed up because last March CNN en Español was included in the basic DirecTV package, which helped boost the channel’s overall audience to 22 million households. April 2020, was CNN en Español’s third highest month on record in terms of linear TV viewership by the 25-54 year old demographic.Hudson tells Portada that CNN en Español’s audience is growing at a very high rate, particularly in digital channels including video and podcast. April 2020 surpassed March 2020 as the biggest month on record in terms of unique visitors at https://cnnespanol.cnn.com, with 50 million unique users and 123% year on year growth, and 123 million video starts (130% year on year growth).
The high growth rate of digital audiences has enabled CNN en Español to substantially increase its programmatic advertising sales, particularly for video. “Advertising in video-programmatic has been three times higher year-to-date, compared to the same period last year,” Hudson asserts. “Our podcasts are sold out until July,” she adds. Regarding overall advertiser response in the current COVID-19 health crisis, Hudson notes that “advertisers are interested in finding ways to reach people with different messaging. They are conscientious about what the consumer really needs. Right now the consumer needs to know that he is not alone.”
At least part of CNN en Español’s audience increase can be attributed to the high credibility of CNN en Español’s information. Hudson emphasizes that it is precisely in times of crisis that audiences crave for “real news, facts and reliable sources.”
Content: Everything Changed …
“COVID-19 changed everything. We are trying to address the new questions: News that impact your life, your future and your family,”Hudson notes. “We are finding we need to grow where the people are and are developing new ways to engage with the audience,” Hudson says. As one example she cites the podcast “COVID19 con el doctor Helmer Huerta”, which has had an audience of more than 1 million listeners. To reinforce its connection with its audience CNN en Español recently activated the “Aquí estamos Campaign.” The campaign stresses that in times of uncertainty, the facts reported by CNN provide clarity and comfort. The campaign is being promoted internally at CNN as well as through CNN en espanol’s digital and linear TV channels.
A new podcast analysing Latino issues and voting trends for the 2020 November election is in the offing. Called “Voto Latino” it will be led by journalist Juan Carlos Lopez. According to Hudson the podcast will address topics such as where Latino politics is going to and what is happening with the political season. “It’s important to take into account that however we manage politics in this country, it reverberates across the world,” she notes.
…including Content Delivery
CNN en Español has been implementing a strategy of delivering content on specific topic areas over linear TV and digital vehicles (desktop, ipad, mobile phones etc.). These include anchor Xabier Serbia led programming on business/finance as well as “Vive la Salud”, a health and well-being show aired every Thursday after CNN’s global town hall. Some segments are specifically built for digital and are broadcast via the Facebook live platform.
Regarding 2021 programming, Hudson notes that the lessons learned during this process are going to continue in 2021. Hudson, who oversees all aspects of CNN’s Spanish-language media businesses, including newsgathering, and editorial content, plans a three pronged evolution of programming. First supporting the ongoing evolution of content delivery across different platforms. Second several documentaries and new series will air next year. Finally, CNN en Español is going to continue to build out content from its bureaus including its offices in Mexico and Argentina (e.g. CNN Primera Manana con Nacho Giron and all news format from CNN’s Argentina office.).