Surviving and thriving in the nation's largest Hispanic market requires a niche product, a targeted audience, a local emphasis — and being free helps, too.
The 7.5 million Hispanics in Los Angeles comprise 15.3 percent of all Latinos in the United States, according to Nielsen Media Research and BIA Financial Network estimates. Forty-five percent are Spanish-dominant speakers, creating an assemblage large enough to support 22 Spanish-language radio stations, 17 audited weekly and daily newspapers, and eight TV stations.
Still, local media executives concede they must stay innovative and focused in this ever-changing marketplace. "There's no such thing as one size fits all," says Mónica Lozano, publisher/CEO, La Opinión. "We have to be relevant and adapt to changes in our market."
To that end, while the newsstand-only daily broadsheet is the flagship title — whose readership grew 6.5 percent in the last two years, according to Lozano — publisher ImpreMedia has several other print and online options. Contrary to the paid, single-copy format of La Opinión, Contigo is a free lifestyle weekly, and its 260,000 copies are home-delivered to nonsubscribers of La Opinión in five high-density Hispanic zones, providing local retailers targeted ad space. La Vibra is a Thursday youth-targeted entertainment publication inserted into La Opinión and also operates as a standalone at 120 retail locations, including music stores and nightclubs.
Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times, also heads L.A.'s Hoy, with Javier J. Aldape the newly named gm/editor of the Spanish-language paper. Hoy has a weekday free, newsstand-only tabloid as well as Saturday targeted-delivery publication Fin de Semana.
To stay competitive among the chain papers, smaller media companies must offer more demographic-specific niche products.
"It has to be local, has to be niche, has to be free," says Mike Cano, president/CEO of Impacto USA. Impacto delivers 240,000 free copies to the top 50 Hispanic zip codes in L.A. on Saturdays, making it the largest ABC-audited home-delivered weekend Spanish-language newspaper in the U.S.
Eastern Group Publications, the country's oldest and largest group of bilingual newspapers, distributes a local news-focused weekly to homes in 10 contiguous cities in L.A. County. "A grandfather might be comfortable reading in Spanish, while a younger person would prefer English," explains Jonathan Sanchez, associate publisher and COO.
Differing language and content preferences are apparent in television, too.
With 1.78 million Hispanic TV households, eight TV stations blanket the 4,850-square-mile Greater Los Angeles five-county DMA. Univision and NBC Universal's O&Os are the top billers and offer the most hours of news, but independent stations are holding their own.
The February 2007 sweeps ratings period marked the 12th consecutive sweep in which Univision O&O KMEX-TV ranked as L.A.'s top-rated station in prime time for all key adult demographics, according to the Nielsen Station Index. Both KMEX and NBC Universal's Telemundo KVEA-TV have two-hour weekday morning newscasts and half hours at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. daily. Both also have sister stations, Univision's KFTR-TV TeleFutura and NBC's KWHY-TV, a Hispanic station offering movies, game shows and other local programs.
Liberman Broadcasting's KRCA-TV is a full-power Spanish-language station that offers local half-hour newscasts at noon and 9 p.m., as well as many locally produced community programs. KAZA-TV Azteca America broadcasts to 99 percent of the DMA over the air and on cable through a local marketing agreement with Pappas Telecasting.
The six-year-old Latino Alternative TV, commonly referred to as LATV, focuses on music/entertainment programs aimed at bilingual 12- to 34-year-olds on KJLA-TV and online. In January, the company signed a deal with Post-Newsweek to distribute its programming through four stations' secondary digital channels.
The newest arrival in L.A. to Hispanic television since November 2006 is MTV Tr3s, targeting Latinos ages 12 to 24. "Forty-five percent of Hispanics in L.A. don't have cable, so this is the first time they're seeing MTV programming," says Mara Rankin, general manager of Bela Broadcasting's KBEH-TV 63.
Since 87 percent of L.A. Latinos are Mexican, it is no surprise that three of the Top 10 radio stations in the L.A. general market are Mexican regional format: Univision Radio's KSCA-FM is tied for second, with KIIS-FM English Top 40; SBS' KLAX-FM (6th); and Liberman's KBUE-FM (10th), according to Arbitron's fall 2006 records. But the No. 1 outlet is Univision's KLVE-FM Spanish adult contemporary, which drew a 4.9 rating.
The heavy hitters also offer unique formats on other stations. SBS' KXOL-FM, for example, plays reggaeton. Liberman's KBUE is simulcast on KBUA and KEBN. Its KHJ-AM offers ranchera and oldies. Entravision simulcasts Super Estrella on KSSE, KSSD and KSSC, and also holds KLYY-FM Spanish tropical.
As the city's Hispanic population continues to grow, the media landscape will undoubtedly evolve even more.