April 21, 2015


Television's 'Sabado Gigante' Problem (Mac Margolis, 4/21/15, Bloomberg View)

The unstated challenge is the demographic earthquake that has hit the Latino community in the U.S., shaking legacy media and tugging at the loyalties and tastes of some of its core customers.

That problem extends across the Latin broadcast spectrum, where younger spectators are deserting legacy shows. Of "Sabado Gigante's" 2 million regular U.S. viewers, only 307,000 were young adults in the year ending March 31 -- a 43 percent decline from the year ending in March 2011.

Across the board, "Giant Saturday" has seen its once-captive audience shrink from around 3.2 million total average viewers in 2008 to around 1.9 million in the U.S. for the week ending March 29.  Now the media chatter is over whether Univision needs to change before it, too, declines.

For years, Spanish-language programming seemed to flourish in a cultural bubble, nurtured by its audience's tightly-knit bond and a storied loyalty to the brands that filled every station break. "Hispanics used to embrace brands as an expression of who they were and to show they were coming up in the world," said cultural consultant Giovanni Rodriguez, who grew up in a Puerto Rican family in the Bronx, and now advises businesses and government on how to pitch to Hispanic communities. "My dad only believed in Buicks. When we got a new TV, my mom wanted a Zenith," he told me.

That loyalty may be history.  A recent survey showed that most Latinos are no more committed to brands than non-Latino U.S. consumers. The big exceptions are less acculturated Latinos who are still more likely to go out of their way to find their favorite toothpaste or beverage. 

Behind that shift, another more fundamental one is reshaping the Latino household, as the children and grandchildren of Hispanics gain on their immigrant relatives. In 2013, for the first time, U.S.-born Hispanics outnumbered those born outside the U.S. in the workplace, according to Pew Research Center.

For these native Hispanics, English is the new Buick. Pew Research Center found that by 2012, some 82 percent of Latinos got at least some of their news in English while nearly a third of them did so exclusively.

What makes this wave of immigrants different is that they assimilated faster than your ancestors.
Posted by at April 21, 2015 4:25 PM

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