Isabella Sanchez, vice president of media integration of Miami-based Zubi Advertising, thinks she may be right. “On behalf of our clients we are constantly seeking additional opportunities to reach Hispanics, regardless of language,” pointing to magazines like Hispanic Business, Vista and Latina, and news websites like FoxNewsLatino and NBCLatino.
“They were all designed with the same mission that Fusion has now; providing culturally relevant content for Hispanics in English,’’ says Sanchez.
Not everyone is so confident.
Mark Lopez, associate director with the Pew Hispanic Center, says that while Hispanic population growth is driven by U.S.-born Hispanics, who consume more TV content in English, a 2009 Pew survey found that 60 percent of young Latinos say their parents often encouraged them to speak Spanish, while 47 percent of older Latinos who say the same.
Meanwhile, down the street, Telemundo is pursuing a different strategy.
In 2001, Telemundo too went after the English-language market with Mun2, a cable channel aimed at young Latinos. The channel’s lineup features 40 percent English content, among them its most popular show, I love Jenni, a reality series subtitled in Spanish about the life of late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera.
But Telemundo Media executives say that Mun2 and Fusion are aimed at different audiences. Mun2 is designed for a young demographic, while Fusion’s content is intended to be more broad-ranging.
Telemundo Media President Emilio Romano is clear that Telemundo´s domain is Spanish-language programming
“We consider that the Hispanic community once they are comfortable to be entertained and informed in English are looking for the best content possible, regardless of the content being Hispanic or not.’’
Once Hispanics are fluent in English, the content they seek is the same as other English-speaking viewers, he says. “I have not seen a media company that has successfully created a powerful content offering to entertain and inform Hispanics in English.”
In the Telemundo world, English-language content belongs to its parent company, NBC Universal. Accordingly, Telemundo has its sights on the 500 million Spanish speakers worldwide. “We are determined to be the best Spanish language media company in the U.S. and the No. 1 producer and distributor of Spanish language content for the world,” Romano said.
That second strategy could be the key.
In 2005, Telemundo decided to focus investment on producing its own telenovelas — shows that it then distributes to networks worldwide. Currently its telenovelas are seen in more than 100 countries and translated to more than 35 languages. Its most successful telenovela, La Reina del Sur (The Queen of the South), featuring a female drug dealer, competed favorably with English-language networks. Its finale, on May 30, 2011, averaged nearly 4.2 million total U.S. viewers, ranking No. 2 for the time spot that night behind ABC’s Extreme Makeover — Weight Loss Edition in the key 18-49 demographic, according to Nielsen. The telenovela was also a hit in Spain and many Latin American countries.
Today Telemundo is the No. 1 producer of Spanish-language prime-time original content in the U.S. Most of that work happens here in South Florida; last year alone, Telemundo increased the shows it produces in Miami by 50 percent.