Asked whether the U.S. economic crisis has negatively impacted demand in Latin America for the AP’s Spanish-language content, LatAm Regional Director Ed McCullough says, “We haven’t seen any cutback in demand. Our Latin American revenue has gone up roughly 10% year over year for last two years. Obviously we’re not going to continue growing at that pace and we will likely see the effects of the economic slump before long. But demand is still strong.”
Last March, the company announced the consolidation of its Spanish-language resources with the creation of the World Spanish Desk which combined the existing Spanish Online Desk and the Print Translation Desk. This consolidation will continue, as McCullough will move to Miami and oversee Spanish-language operations from there.
“We’re going to examine how to leverage existing content in ways that would best serve our clients,” says McCullough. “One thing we’re looking at doing is adapting some of our English language content to Spanish and offering it to media outlets in heavily Hispanic states.” He adds that in tough economic times, it could be more efficient for some publishers to secure AP’s Spanish-language content than to keep extra reporters on staff.
AP’s Spanish-language video offering is one that also may be scaled up, says McCullough. “We’re improving the product we already have. With Spanish Video, we’ll be moving from our current offering of 5 per weekday to 7 per weekday in the first half of next year, hopefully. Goal is to boost the offering to ten daily videos within two years.” One idea is to add specifically Latin American news content. The real stumbling block is that bandwidth costs are so high to transmit the material. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and find ourselves in a losing position, so this will all be implemented in a way that correlates with existing demand,” McCullough tells Portada.
Reflecting on how current economic conditions in the U.S. might affect AP’s Hispanic strategy in the coming year, McCullough takes an optimistic tack: “The difficult business climate can actually helpful because it forces you to focus on how to offer your clients the best product at the best value.” He explains that it was this approach that led the AP to begin offering a la carte content purchases instead of the expensive subscription options. “We used to be like a content fire-hose, just blasting out evermore information,” says McCullough. “Recently, we’ve made a strong effort to offer our content to clients in a way that maximizes the value of their investment. They can by one photo or story or they can buy hundreds.”
Rafael Carranza, Commercial Director for Efe North America and the Caribbean, also acknowledges the difficult climate that Spanish-language content providers are facing: ”We are certainly feeling the effects of the down economy. We are still seeing new requests, though—not necessarily from traditional print media, but more from online properties.”
Even so, Carranza acknowledges that the Web properties that are requesting wire services do not have the same resources as many of the more established print properties.
Carranza says that it’s not that Spanish language media are going to stop using the service, but they are more demanding in what they are looking for. Whereas before, many properties might use two or three different wire services, now, “They are looking to get all of their needs fulfilled by one wire service. They are looking for a one-stop-shop,” says Carranza.
Efe is also fielding more requests for more in-depth coverage of evergreen content such as health advice, tourism info, and economic tips. Carranza says that breaking news is not as in-demand as it was previously. He also anticipates greater interest in entertainment content, as consumers seek lighter material to get their minds off of the gloomy economic picture. Demand for video content is up across the board, he says. Efe currently provides content to panregional country specific portals like AOL, Terra and Yahoo!.
“It’s a hard landscape. This is a time of change. We know that many businesses are going to suffer, and our job is to try to stay ahead of the curve and offer the best possible value to our clients and their readers.”