MEDIA SPOTLIGHT by Power Media Group

Tracking trends in all media.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Hispanic power grows

Meg James of the Los Angeles Times pointed out Sep 12, 2005,
"As Hispanic Population Grows, So Does Its Presence On TV"

James makes some important points related to media trends:

In ABC's new sitcom, "Freddie," one of the main characters -- Freddie Prinze Jr.'s Puerto Rican grandmother -- speaks only Spanish. The show, which debuts in October, will use subtitles to translate her words.

In "Go, Diego, Go!" a Nickelodeon cartoon that premiered last week, the hero is a brown-skinned bilingual boy who lives in a rain forest and teaches viewers to say "cuidado" (be careful) and "al rescate" (to the rescue).

To lend authenticity to UPN's upcoming prime-time soap, "South Beach," some scenes are being shot entirely in Spanish. Subtitles will be sprinkled throughout the midseason offering, which Jennifer Lopez's production company is filming in Miami.

Not so long ago, the only Spanish that most people heard on television came during reruns of "I Love Lucy," when Ricky Ricardo went on a tear. But as Hispanics become the largest minority group in the United States, representing an estimated $700 billion a year in buying power, media companies and advertisers are scrambling to figure how to appeal to them.

"There's a huge change in the economics of television," said Bruce Helford, a creator and executive producer of "Freddie" and the three-year-old sitcom "George Lopez" on ABC. "Now, there is an honest push to have shows reflect the culture and complexion of the audience who's watching."

Last month, TV ratings giant Nielsen Media Research increased its estimate of the number of Hispanic homes with televisions in the United States to 11.2 million. That means Nielsen will be recruiting more Hispanics for its audience surveys, which could boost ratings for programs popular among Hispanics and allow networks to charge more to run ads during those shows.

"The Hispanic market is growing in affluence, and it's growing in influence," said Felipe Herrera, director of diversity sales and marketing for General Motors, one of the nation's largest buyers of TV advertising. "We recognize that this is an incredible opportunity."

Executives at the major networks are experimenting with a mix of English and Spanish to win over what some say is becoming one of the most attractive groups of all: young bilingual Hispanics.

" 'Freddie' is on to something," said Stephen Chavez, a vice president of the Los Angeles-based advertising agency, La Agencia de Orci. "Second- and third-generation Latinos like myself want to see characters who reflect their lifestyle and their culture, and story lines that are relevant to our lives."


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