When the TV network Telemundo started in Puerto Rico in 1954, its assets consisted of five cameras and two microphone booms in a studio built inside a newspaper office. Since then—and with the help of NBC’s purchase in 2002 for $2.7 billion—it has become an international powerhouse of original content production and market penetration. Now reaching 94 percent of Latino households in the U.S., according to Nielsen, Telemundo is the second-largest Spanishlanguage content producer in the world and the second-largest U.S. Spanishlanguage
“Our audience reflects the U.S. Hispanic population, across the full spectrum,” says Jacqueline Hernández, chief operating officer for Telemundo. “They are Spanish-dominant, biculturals and Englishdominant. They are U.S.-born or come from a diverse set of countries. What all our viewers have in common is a passion for their culture, and they turn to Telemundo to connect
with content that is uniquely U.S. Hispanic- American.”
Telemundo is known for its original programming, including news and dozens of telenovelas. Plus, according to the network, it was the first Spanish-language U.S. network
to provide English closed captioning for prime time programming—the idea being to attract audiences that might not be fluent in Spanish.
“Content that speaks to our brand and to our audience is unique,” Hernández says. “Look at our telenovela La Reina del Sur. There simply isn’t anything else like it on television today. Based on a best-selling novel by Arturo Perez-Reverte , it’s a smart, provocative show, and yet remains traditional in that the main character struggles with her personal values. We strive to create content that speaks that way—smart, provocative and yet traditional.”
Not to mention, successful. According to this month’s Nielsen national audience estimates, La Reina del Sur averaged more than 2.8 million viewers—helping push Telemundo’s prime time ratings up more than 40 percent over February 2011 and up more than 34 percent over March 2010.
Latinos have become an increasingly important demographic for marketers and with good reason: “They are not only the fastestgrowing population segment, they are the only growing television audience,” Hernández says. “I think all networks are—or should be—creating content for Hispanics.”
While some research indicates that programming and targeted advertising is still focused on Spanish-speaking Latinos, Spanish language television hasn’t seen proportionate ad dollars in relation to audience size. Hernández believes a shift in this trend is inevitable. “From CEOs down, business leaders are looking to their marketing teams for plans to reach this segment,” she says. “Many of these marketers have turned to Telemundo not just as a media partner but as market experts.”
Because of Telemundo’s efforts to engage its audience online and on mobile platforms, the network’s advertisers have more access to the audience than ever before. “We actually refer to our audiences not as viewers or users but as ‘viewsers,’” Hernández says. “They love content and they love connection, and technology enables them to bring these thing together.”
That means giving audiences the opportunity to interact with each other and with the Telemundo brand. “We have developed extremely interesting 360-degree programs,” Hernández explains, “where we have literally created characters and content online that integrated with our on-air stories and extended the consumer connection with the audience.”
And that consumer connection is bound to get stronger in the coming months. Following the release of data from the 2010 Census, it seems likely that even more advertising and marketing dollars will be poured into reaching the Hispanic/Latino demographic.
“What is happening right now is we’re already seeing marketing strategy and budget shifts,” Hernández says. “But even more importantly, there is a shift in the mindset. Hispanic is no longer the future—it is a huge and growing part of America now. Marketing to Hispanics is no longer merely an option if you want to grow yourbusiness. It’s a necessity and Telemundo is
a key part of that.”