NBCU cabler takes aim at fast-rising youth population

NBCUniversal is plowing more money and resources into its Spanish-lingo TV assets, and for good reason. Broadcast net Telemundo and cabler Mun2 hit the sweet spot of the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.

Mun2, which targets younger, U.S.-born Hispanics with a mix of Spanish and English programming, in particular is seen as a sleeping giant within the Peacock family. The cabler unveiled highlights of its 2012-13 season original programming lineup on Tuesday, the same day Nielsen issued a report detailing the growth and influence of the nation’s Hispanic population.

“We sit in this very great space that is the best of both worlds,” said Flavio Morales, Mun2’s senior veep of programing and production, referring to its 18-34 demo target. According to the Nielsen report, “State of the Hispanic Consumer: The Hispanic Market Imperative,” more than 60% of the U.S. Hispanic population is under the age of 35 and more than 75% are under the age of 45.

Those stats are a big part of the reason that NBCU is focused on expanding its presence in the Hispanic market and vying to command a bigger share of the $5.7 billion Spanish-lingo advertising market through its Hispanics@NBCUniversal initiative to more effectively market its strength with Hispanic auds to advertisers.

Execs at Telemundo and Mun2 are increasingly brainstorming programming and marketing ideas with execs at other NBCU cablers. Diana Mogollon, g.m. of Mun2, predicts that it won’t be long before they develop a show that airs on more than one NBCU outlet in more than one language simultaneously.

Since February, Mogollon noted, Mun2 has been carrying repeats of Oxygen’s “Bad Girls Club” reality show, with Spanish subtitles. Young Hispanic femmes are among the most ardent reality TV viewers, so it was a natural connection.

“We’re all focused on ways we can make (programs) a win-win for all of us,” Mogollon said.

Cablers Bravo and Style have run promo spots for Mun2’s celeb reality hit “I Love Jenni,” revolving around L.A.-based Mexican Regional superstar Jenni Rivera. The success of the show, now in its second season, has steered the cabler firmly in the direction of targeting the younger bilingual demo that is as familiar with MTV and E! as they are with old-school telenovelas.

” ‘I Love Jenni,’ ” Morales said, “clears a path for us to continue telling more of these uniquely American stories.”

The cabler’s new programs include a spinoff, “The Chiquis Project,” featuring Rivera’s daughter, Chiquis, as she moves out of her mother’s house and opens a beauty salon in the San Fernando Valley.

“Larrymania” will revolve around the jet-set life of another Mexican Regional crooner, Larry Hernandez.

Mun2 has partnered with car-centric Dub Magazine for a weekly lifestyle skein, “Dub Latino.” The pact calls for Mun2 to have a presence at the car shows and other live events the magazine stages around the country.

Mun2’s programming also includes a younger-skewing spin on telenovelas. Among the new projects on deck are “Ojo por ojo,” a 98-episode skein revolving around star-crossed lovers. In a nod to the blended composition of its aud, Mun2 will give viewers the options of watching it with Spanish or English subtitles.

Mun2 is hardly the only cabler mining the younger Latino aud. Its competitors include Univision’s TeleFutura, MTV’s Tres and the indie Nuvo. Fox is taking aim at the 18-49 Hispanic demo with its new broadcast network, MundoFox, targeted for launch later this year.

According to Nielsen, advertising expenditures on all forms of Spanish-lingo media climbed 11% last year, with the majority of that coin going to TV. National broadcast networks (Univision, Telemundo) commanded the biggest slice ($3.26 billion, up 13%), followed by local broadcast TV ($1.15 billion, up 1%) and cable ($452 million, up 21%). The top five spenders: Procter & Gamble, financial services firm Bancorp Inc., Dish Network, McDonald’s and AT&T.

Driving all of this investment by Big Media and mainstream advertisers are the growth stats for the Hispanic population.

Hispanics accounted for half of the nation’s population growth during the past 10 years, and will contribute more than 60% of the growth over the next five years. At present, the Hispanic population stands at 52 million, or 16% of the total U.S. Purchasing power among Hispanics stands at $1.1 trillion and is projected to hit $1.5 trillion by 2015, according to Nielsen.

The report emphasizes the rising clout of Hispanics as consumers of everything from media to packaged goods as the nation moves toward “ethnic plurality,” in which no one racial or ethnic group constitutes a majority of the population. Hispanics today account for 16% of the U.S. population but are much higher in states like Texas and California, where they rep 38% of the population, and Florida (22%).

More than other ethnic groups, Hispanics have demonstrated characteristics of what the report called “culture sustainability,” meaning that they maintain strong ties to their heritage even as second- and third-generation U.S.-born Hispanics assimiliate into mainstream culture.

The Nielsen report reinforced many earlier surveys indicating that younger Hispanics tend to be early adopters of new technologies. Young Hispanics are more likely than non-Hispanic counterparts to own a smartphone, and they outpace all other ethnic groups in using mobile data services such as downloading music and photos.

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