The new face of Latin American television flows
Juan Piñón/New York University


Telenovelas

La Reina del Sur (Telemundo – USA Hispanic), Soy tu Dueña (Televisa – Mexico) and Pablo Escobar el Patrón del Mal (Caracol TV – Colombia)

The Latin American television industry caught the attention of scholars worldwide given the rising visibility of a media counter flow resulting from the increasing presence of telenovelas in the world television market place. The rise of regional players such as Mexican Televisa, Brazilian TV Globo and Venezuelan Venevision was hailed as proof that cultural proximity drives audiences’ decisions in spite of the overwhelming presence of U.S. media in these countries ((Straubhaar, J. (1991). “Beyond Media Imperialism: Asymmetrical Interdependence and Cultural Proximity,” Critical Studies in Mass Communication 8, 1-11.)). Media counter flows were best represented by the conspicuous presence of Latin American telenovelas in the U.S. television market through Spanish-language television networks. However, since the 2000s, the rise of the Hispanic market as a magnet for media production piqued the interest of U.S. corporations and media conglomerates in which the push for original production resulted in the rise of Miami as new hub for U.S. Hispanic media and Latina/o popular culture for Latin America ((Sinclair, J. (2003). The Hollywood of Latin America: Miami as a regional center in television trade. Television and New Media, 4, 211-229.)). Since that time, NBC-Telemundo deployed a production strategy that sought to attract the U.S. Hispanic audience as well as Latino audiences across the hemisphere. Taking advantage of what Miller and Leger ((Miller, T. and Leger, M. (2001). Runaway production, runaway consumption, Runaway citizenship: The New International division of cultural labor. Emergences, 11(1): 89-115)) describe as runaway production, Telemundo pursued partnerships in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil to tap into the cultural resources of professionals in these countries, while finding competitive prices due to the different conditions of labor between the U.S. and Latin American markets. Mexican production has been historically relevant to the U.S. Hispanic television market due to the demographic composition of the Latino population with 65 percent of Mexican descent ((US Census Bureau (May 2011). The Hispanic population: 2010. Census briefs and reports. US Census Bureau. May 2011. Available at: http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-04.pdf)). However, the duopolistic conditions under which Televisa and TV Azteca have operated in the Mexican market and their links to Univision and Azteca America respectively made it harder for other U.S. television networks to find a source of Mexican television programming appealing to their potential audiences. As a result, the networks looked for other alternatives. Due to the success of the Yo soy Betty, la fea across the different Hispanic audiences in the U.S., and the composition of the Colombian industry, the South American country was seen as a valuable programming source and as potential site for production with regional and global appeal. As a result Telemundo sought partnerships with RTI and Caracol TV, resulting in the rise of production made in Colombia. Telemundo also incorporated the Mexican house producer Argos as a partner to keep the Mexican flavor of some of their productions. It also cultivated a co-production strategy with Brazilian TV Globo for the adaptation of successful fictional formats. Meanwhile, in the U.S. the network has reinforced its production infrastructure in Miami, becoming a national and regional production leader in the last ten years. Following the steps of Telemundo, NewsCorp/Fox, saw in Colombian as a good place to locate their production, bought the independent house production Telecolombia and stroke agreements of distribution with the television network RCN. The success of these partnerships resulted in the in the launch of a new U.S. Hispanic television network, MundoFox in 2012. ABC/Disney, Sony Pictures, and MTV/Viacom have also ventured in a series of co-productions with Latin American partners across the hemisphere, such as Vista Productions in Colombia, Polka Productions in Argentina, and TV Azteca in Mexico among many others.

Changes in the television flows within the region

The strategy followed by the U.S. media conglomerates to increase their production output for the Hispanic and Latin American markets has been felt in the region, challenging a long standing three tier media order described in the 1990s by Roncagliolo ((Roncagliolo, R. (1995) Trade Integration and Communication Networks in Latin America. Canadian Journal of Communication 20(3), from http://cjc-online.ca/index.php/journal/article/viewArticle/882/788)) in which there were net exporters (Brazil and Mexico), new exporters (Venezuela, and Argentina followed distantly by Colombia, Peru and Chile) and net importers (all the other countries in the region). The strategy followed since the 2000s by the U.S. Hispanic industry has maintained the predominant role of Mexico as producer and exporter of fictional programming, while it has also increased the presence of Colombian and U.S. Hispanic production and their regional visibility.
The following tables shows the number of titles or hours of new releases of fictional programming in the main television markets within the region: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, U.S. Hispanic and Venezuela as reported by the Ibero-American Observatory of Television Fiction in the years 2010, 2011, and 2012 ((Obitel.net. Ibero American Observatory of Television Fiction, from www.Obitel.net)). While in terms of new releases in fictional programming, the average of the overall national production counted for 37 percent, among the aforementioned main markets within the region, the imports from the Ibero-American region counted for 63 percent average in countries within the region, but the distribution of these dynamics is quite uneven. Brazil led the market as consumer of its own production with only 12 percent of imported fictional hours, followed by Spain with 13 percent and Mexico with 32 percent. In 2012, Brazil did not premiere a single title released from another country, so their own productions made up 100 percent of their new fictional programming offerings. In contrast, Uruguay imported 98 percent of its new fictional programming followed by Venezuela with 86, Chile with 80 and the U.S. with 79 percent. While Brazil has become exclusively an exporter, Mexico took the place as the main producer of fictional programming for its own market, followed by Brazil, Colombia, Portugal and Argentina.

Table 1

Table 1: National and Ibero-American production (2010-2012)

But when we look at fictional programming flows in the last three years (2010, 2011, and 2012) within the main television industries of the Ibero-American region ((Obitel offers data on the television industries in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, the U.S., Peru, Portugal, Uruguay and Venezuela.)), a different picture emerges. Taking into account only the broadcast hours of new releases in the national television networks, four countries dominate the programming flows: Mexico, Colombia, U.S. Hispanic and Brazil, followed distantly by Venezuela and Argentina. In this period, Mexico has secured its position as the hegemonic source of programing with 40 percent of the total flows across the main markets in the region. However, the main recipient of Mexican production is still the U.S. Hispanic market which counted for around 27 percent of Mexican new releases. Colombia, while in third place as a producer, has become the second most important source of programming among these markets with 17 percent of the total flows. Colombian exports have found in Venezuela, Ecuador and the U.S. their main regional new release recipients, with 36, 27 and 14 percent respectively. The U.S. Hispanic market, while occupying the sixth place as a producer, has jumped into third place as programming distributor with 13 percent of the flows. While the U.S. programming flows have diversified across different countries, the main recipients of their programming are Venezuela, Chile and Mexico with 23, 21 and 17 percent respectively. Brazil which is arguably the most important exporter of fictional programming at global levels, in the region has fallen into fourth place with 12 percent. While TV Globo shows a robust and dynamic performance as the hegemonic source of productions and leads the rating numbers across the region in comparison to other markets, the network has exported the bulk of its programming to Portugal and neighboring countries such as Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. Portugal alone accounts for 38 percent of Brazilian fiction exports to the region followed by Uruguay with 17, Chile with 16 and Argentina with 7 percent.

Table 2

Table 2: Four main exporters: new releases in hours (2010-2012)

The combined hours exported by Mexico, Colombia, the U.S. and Brazil comprises 80 percent of the total programming flows. Furthermore, it is important to underscore that these countries’ position as exporters is largely based on the programming distribution of a few media corporations: Mexican Televisa, Colombian RCN and Caracol TV, Brazilian TV Globo, and the U.S. Hispanic Telemundo, followed in a second tier by Mexican TV Azteca, Venezuelan Venevision, and Argentinean Telefe and El Trece.

exporting networks

Main Exporting Networks in Latin America

This landscape only shows national broadcasting television network offerings and the productions coming from Ibero-American countries. A more subtle but complex landscape arises if we considered co-productions as multinational properties and assigned them to all the countries involved, not merely the main players. Furthermore, if we take into account countries as sources of innovation and providers of scripts and formats, the balance tips to the South, with Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Brazil providing most of the titles to be produced across the region. It is important to note this landscape does not include US English language productions, and it also does not include cable television fictional programming. While broadcasting television is still a media space dominated by national or regional players, particularly in primetime. Cable television offers a very different picture, with U.S. global media corporations having an overwhelmingly dominant position.

Image Credits:
1.La Reina del Sur (Telemundo – USA Hispanic), Soy tu Dueña (Televisa – Mexico) and Pablo Escobar el Patrón del Mal (Caracol TV – Colombia); Assembled by Author
2. Table 1
3. Table 2
4. Main Exporting Networks in Latin America; Assembled by Author

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The U.S. Hispanic television industry in the era of digital conversion
Juan Piñón/ New York University

Telemundo Novelas Portal

Telemundo Novelas Portal
Source: Telemundo.com

The most significant expansion strategy of the U.S. Hispanic television industry in the last five years has been a decisive attempt to conquer online and mobile devices’ territories, as new windows for delivering content to a desirable young demographic. Media convergence is redefining traditional media strategies and complicating the question of what “television” means, by intensifying the commoditization of the production, distribution and consumption processes, and reshaping the process of how economic value is produced for televisual goods through coupled institutional practices of branding and storytelling capable of traveling across platforms. These processes are situating notions of marketing at the core of the creative process of Hispanic television program production conceived as a franchise, increasing the commercialization process through a variety of goods accessible for sale, and cementing the processes of audience participation as a new commodity.

Expansion of TV networks content offers to digital and mobile devices.

There is no surprise that Hispanic television networks in the U.S. have pursued an aggressive strategy for expanding content distribution through different digital and mobile platforms. This expansion has also reconfigured the type of audience that accesses these audiovisual delivery systems. A 2011 Nielsen report shows that Hispanics lead in the ownership and use of smartphones compared to other ethnic groups in the U.S. ((Kellogg, D. (2011, February 01). Among mobile phone users, Hispanics, Asian are most likely smartphone onwers in the U.S. Nielsen, en http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/newswire/2011/among-mobile-phone-users-hispanics-asians-are-most-likely-smartphone-owners-in-the-u-s.html)). Furthermore, a study on advertising in social networks shows that Hispanics may have a purchasing response of up to 22 percent compared to an ad response of 12 percent from whites and 18 percent from African Americans ((Nielsen, (2012, April). State of the media. The social media report. Nielsen. http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/reports/2012/state-of-the-media-the-social-media-report-2012.html)). In particular, an effective strategy to reach audiences that use various digital devices recognizes that Latinos who use these technologies mainly consist of a generation of young acculturated second and third-generation Hispanics, who are mostly bilingual, of an average lower age than traditional viewers, and whose interests are often far from those of their parents or grandparents. This Hispanic population is on average 27 years old, in contrast to the general population, which averages 37 years old ((Pew Research Hispanic Center, (2011). A statistical portrayal of U.S. Hispanics. Pew Research Hispanic Center, en http://www.pewhispanic.org/2013/02/15/hispanic-population-trends/ph_13-01-23_ss_hispanics1/)), and networks have begun creating content considering this kind of audience’s media use.

A multichannel media landscape ((Lotz, A. (2007). The television will be revolutionized. New York, NY: NYU Press.)) characterized by the multiple options offered by new technologies has changed “the competitive dynamics of the industry and the type of programming likely to be produced” (15). This new media environment, coupled with the economic logics of media vertical and horizontal integration, has made possible the development and exploitation of what Jenkins has named “transmedia narratives.” A key feature of this storytelling model is that it is deployed across various technological platforms. In “It’s not TV, it’s brand management TV” Mann ((Mann, D. (2009). It’s not TV, it’s brand management TV. In V. Mayer, M. Banks, and J.T. Caldwell. Production studies. Cultural studies of media industries (pp. 99-114). New York and London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.)) underscores the creative-producer shift that involves the corporate manufacturing of TV programs as brands through different platforms. While the production logic of transmedia narratives follows the consistency of a franchise, at the center of these strategies lies the idea of “affective economics” that transforms consumer desires into purchasing decisions ((Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence Culture. Where old and new media collide. New York and London: New York University.)).

Reflecting on the new narrative paradigms in this competitive context on TV production, Mittell ((Mittell, J. (2006). Narrative complexity in contemporary American television. The Velvet Trap 58, 29-40)) elaborates on the notion of “narrative complexity” as new storytelling mechanisms following the “demands of intensified viewer engagement focused on both diegetic pleasures and awareness” that the new multichannel environment requires (39). Kackman ((Kackman, M. (2010). Quality television, melodrama, and cultural complexity. Flow TV. Special issue: Flow favorites 2010, 11. accesado en enero 15, 2011 desde http://flowjournal.org/2010/03/flow-favorites-quality-television-melodrama-and-cultural-complexity-michael-kackman-university-of-texas-austin/)) questions the ideas of narrative complexity as something inherent within the diegesis of the tale, and suggests thinking in terms of “cultural complexity” based on operation and engagement brought by the audiences’ aesthetic, cultural and social backgrounds to the narrative, and so categorizing it as a cultural operation, not an aesthetic one.

The consumption of fictional content across U.S. Hispanic television seems to bring to the forefront the cultural competences that ethno-national audiences bring as tools of pleasure and engagement, largely driven by genre expectations, and today enhanced by digital media and mobile platforms. The centrality of these narratives of strategies gain relevance in this new media ecology, playing a key role in opening new possibilities for the U.S. Hispanic television industry and its audiences, while requiring a slows process of restructuring.

The reorganization the Hispanic television networks in the age of digital media

This reorganization has required at least four different kinds of interrelated media-industrial strategies with the goal of exploring the growth capacity of the network in the digital realm. First, the creation, reorganization and development of corporate portals with attractive information and content distribution capabilities, including a structure for easy navigation sites, new delivery channels of programming, and the desired interaction terms with the different target audiences. Second, securing copyright of programming and content offered for consumption by web portals. Television networks are aggressively looking to reach exclusive programming arrangements for broadcast and online distribution, coupled to an increase of their original content production with the purpose to exploit their narratives and interactive possibilities to its fullest through all the media properties of the corporation.

Third, a series of negotiations with software companies, telecommunications, and Silicon Valley to efficiently manage, distribute and commercial content within their sites both official and other content distribution spaces, such as YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, Facebook, or Twitter, and access via different applications and different mobile devices. And fourth, a reorganization of its marketing strategy, promotion, advertising and sale, which involves a new approach in the way it is exposed to digital media audiences, and how gains are in the process of interaction. In the last five years, major brands have reorganized their digital properties to be better positioned as transmitters of content digitally, opening new windows and consumer access to its programming, new opportunities for participation and interaction, and a new range of services and custom counter products to their target audiences. To illustrate this process, I will draw on the case of the two media corporations that dominate hegemonic, as a duopoly, the Hispanic television market in the U.S., Univision and Telemundo.

Facebook

Facebook Portal: Telenovela Eva Luna
Source: Facebook.com

Narrative multiplatform marketing and consumption intensified

Among the most important steps taken by the U.S. Hispanic networks in realizing the great potential of the new technologies adopted by Hispanics since the mid-2000s, beside the restructuring of the websites for video downloading, has been the creation of apps with content for mobile consumption and the production of webnovelas. Univision.com integrated in its portal Univision Movil to download different apps, such as Univision, UVideos, Univision Deportes, Univision Noticias and Univision Marcador to mobile platforms. Uvideos was launched in 2012 as a bilingual digital network for U.S. Hispanics. Telemundo also has developed Telemundo Movil, with an emphasis on the Telenovelas Telemundo app. Telemundo executives recognize that the main driver to click on Telemundo digital properties is 80 percent for telenovelas.

Univision Movil

Univision Movil
Source: Univision.com

Based on telenovelas as the main engine for audiences interaction, the networks has pursued the path of producing fictional content exclusively for digital properties, as is the case of webnovelas. Tomas Lopez-Pumarejo defined webnovelas as “sentimental fiction series produced for the Internet by the television industry” ((López-Pumarejo, T. (2010, Octubre 05). Televisión y nuevos medios: La webnovela en EEUU. GuionActualidad. En http://guionactualidad.uab.cat/?p=1514)). In 2007, Univision launched its first webnovela titled Mi Adorada Malena (My Beloved Malena,) followed by Vida Cruzadas (Crossed Lives, 2009), No Me Hallo (I Don’t Find Myself, 2011), Te Presento a Valentin (Introducing Valentin, 2012), a coproduction with Televisa, and Arranque de Pasión (Start of Passion, 2013). Telemundo also has produced the webnovelas Estilos Robados (2010), Mía Mundo (2012), and Secreteando. These webnovelas, are assumingly seeking bolder narratives akin to the young professional acculturated Latinos. In Amores Cruzados Univision addressed issues of single motherhood and artificial insemination, while in Telemundo’s Mia the name and psychological profile of Mia the main character comes from the Modern Independent Achiever. Diverting from traditional Spanish-language telenovelas, this is a bilingual production, with emphasis on English, seeking to reach second and third-generation Latinos. These webnovelas exploit the telenovela star systems that on one hand allows the network to draw larger audiences, but also allows the corporations to fully exploit in their websites the narratives offered by the webnovela, intersecting the lives and careers of their protagonists and creative team involved in the production. The interactive nature of the telenovela is developed through contests, chats, interviews, polls and virtual castings, in which the roles of the sponsors are heavily underscored with interactive strategies brought about through marketing strategies: Old Navy in Estilos Robados, Caress in Mi Adorada Malena, State Farm in Vidas Cruzadas, GM and Verizon in Mia, and Mary Kay, MetroPCS, State Farm and Western Union in Arranque de Pasión. A particular problematic coming from these webnovela interactive properties is the highly commercialized nature of their design and production. From the product placement to the chosen themes linked to services provided by the sponsors, to the kind of interactive dynamics where the narratives risk the downside of becoming large dramatized commercials. While the novelas follow the common structure of the telenovelas with sections such as Episodes, Synopsis, Characters, Gossip, Music, Pictures, Videos, Trivia and Forums, the sections also include links to social networks like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The social networks have become the preferred spaces for audience interaction and production of new content in fictional programming.

Webnovela

Webnovela: Arranque de Pasión
Source: Univision.com

Arranque de Pasión link

The increase in webnovelas’ production and visibility, in particular, seems to obey a new form of content production. While it is suitable for certain demographics of young Latinos, it also offers a commercial field intensified in all its potential. Apparently, webisodes 6-9 minutes in length seem like an alternative answer to the television that young audiences suffering from short attention span, while offering alternative ways of participation in a narrative universe that expands through social networks in a number of interactive activities. The idea of narrative complexity designed to gain audience engagement get a tweak in the interactive nature of the webnovela, and the impact of audience decisions on its plot and ending, but clearly cultural competences makes a stronger impact, in the possibilities that audiences may feel compelled or hailed by the plot to participate. The idea of ​​making these new narratives not only in line with new technological skills of the audience, but also with their cultural characteristics, has prompted the creation of scenarios and bilingual, acculturated characters, while recognizing a universe of Latinity that has been developed in environments that involve highly Americanized or urban lifestyles. These conditions have made webnovelas production or exploitation of transmedia narratives a perfect setting for a level of marketing and consumption practices like never before seen in media history.

Image Credits:
1. Telemundo Novelas Portal
2. Facebook Eva Luna
3. Univision Movil
4. Webnovela Arranque de Pasion

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New hierarchies of TV broadcasting distribution: The case of Hispanic networks
Juan Piñón / New York University


National TV Logos

National Networks

The combined impact of Hispanic population growth, expectations about market opportunities, linguistic competencies, media viewing patterns, the cultural attachment to certain media televisual products, and the paramount role of broadcasting media for Latinos resulting from their still limited access to cable and the Internet have driven Hispanic television networks’ growth and viewership. Hispanic TV has boomed, from two national broadcasting networks in the early 2000s to seven in 2012, while Hispanic cable television has shown an explosive growth to more than 75 national networks at the end of the decade ((Piñón, J. and Rojas, V. (2011). Language and cultural identity in the new configuration of the U.S. Latino TV industry. Global Media and Communication, 7(2), 129-147)). However, in the context of a Post-Network Era ((Lotz, A. (2007). The television will be revolutionized. New York, NY: NYU Press.)) with a fragmented media environment, in contrast to the trend of shrinking viewership of the main four national mainstream networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox), Hispanic networks have experienced increasing ratings numbers and record viewership in the last five years, in particular for the Spanish-language network Univision.

I have argued that the analog system of signal distribution and the scarcity of spectrum space have historically served as de facto barriers to the entrance of new Hispanic television networks as competitors for U.S. Latino audiences at national levels ((Piñón, J. (2011). The unexplored challenges of television distribution: The case of Azteca America. Television and New Media, 12(1), 66-90)). The new digital broadcasting landscape appears to have torn down the aforementioned barrier, by the new opportunities of multicasting that allow a single TV station to broadcast several TV signals simultaneously (sub-channels). However, while multicasting broke space barriers by opening opportunities for emerging new networks, it has also created a deeper hierarchical barrier to achieve visibility, by the increasing dependency on sub-channels by these new Latino-oriented broadcasting networks.

While I am aware of the complex set of socio-cultural factors in which audiences’ preferences and viewing habits operate, I want to underline a structural factor that seems to be increasingly dismissed in the context of the digital conversion era that is the shaping power of broadcasting technologies in Hispanic television. While Tuner and Tay point out that “television is no longer a stand-alone medium” ((Turner, G. and Tay, J. (2009). Television Studies After TV: Understanding Television in the Post-Broadcast Era. Abingdon, OX: Routledge.)), Lotz still reminds us that in a multichannel environment, “networks and channels have remained as important sites of program aggregation” ((Lotz, A. (2007). The television will be revolutionized. pg. 16. New York, NY: NYU Press.)). This function is still critical in the case of the Hispanic television industry. I want to discuss the Hispanic broadcasting infrastructure as a crucial site of distribution that shapes the differentiated fortunes of competing Spanish-language national television networks. This is a media space in which control over the infrastructure of broadcasting distribution of the Hispanic networks has not only secured changes of viewership and cemented certain networks’ leadership, but it has also become the base from which broadcasting networks have aggressively pursued audiences’ loyalties for their multiple digital and mobile platforms. The new atomization of the Hispanic televisual offerings has not threatened but rather cemented the long-time dominant position of Univision by translating its wide broadcasting appeal into the digital environment.

In claiming a particular percentage of broadcasting’s geographic coverage of Hispanic households, it has been a vital step for networks to receive recognition by Nielsen to ensure commercial viability. Particularly, reaching the threshold of 70% Nielsen coverage has been crucial for a network’s progress toward their further integration within the National Television Index (NTI), an important step to securing economic sustainability through ad revenues. Besides Univision and Telemundo, Azteca America, UniMás, V-me, Estrella TV and MundoFox have also achieved status as national networks in the last decade. Technologies of multicasting played a crucial role in the emergence of these new national networks, yet such technologies also reveal the increasingly uneven nature of their techno-legal character.

The uneven infrastructure in the analog broadcasting era illustrated by the legal and technological advantages of Full Power Stations (FP) versus Low Power Stations (LPTV) is further deepened by the new possibilities of signal transmission with digital FP and LPTV main digital channels (0.1), and their multiple sub-channels known as (Non 0.1). The FCC’s legal framework that governs the must carry and retransmission consent rules in which networks secure FP-privileged access to cable systems and which gives them further economic compensation, reinforced a privilege that is not afforded to the emergent number of television networks through LPTV or the multiplying number of sub-channels carried either through FP or LPTV digital stations.

Hispanic Networks

Hispanic Networks
Source: Sub-channel Report within the Across Platforms site

Then if we take a closer look at the composition of the Hispanic national networks and their broadcasting infrastructure, we can find at least some of the reasons for their long-lasting dominance as hegemonic corporations. In the context of the must carry rule, the lack of FP TV stations of Azteca America, Estrella TV and MundoFox in several markets relegated them to the upper channels of the cable systems dial, while the same rule secures preferred positions for Univision, UniMas and Telemundo. Furthermore, the transmission consent rule has allowed the Univision TV Station Groups and the NBC TV Station group to be understood as Owned and Operated (O&O) entities, so the Univision/UniMás and Telemundo networks have a commercial advantage as TV station owners. In 2011, a report found that the main networks ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, the CW and Univision would be getting $3 billion dollars by 2015 merely for retransmission fees, of which $1.7 billion would go to their O&O TV stations and $1.3 billion to their affiliates ((Flint, J. (2011, November 1). Broadcast networks will rake in retransmission fees, report says. Los Angeles Times, from “http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2011/11/broadcast-networks-retransmission-consent-fees.html” )).

Furthermore, a study of 16 TV Station groups has found an increase of 46 percent in retransmission fees, rising from an average of 26 cents per costumer in 2009 to 33 cents in 2011. This increase reflects the fact that Univision Communication leads this trend with its retransmission fees of 61 cents per customer ((Farrell, M. (2012, February 20). Retransmission Fees Hit 33 Cents Per Sub, Up 47% Since 2009. Multichannel, from “http://www.multichannel.com/content/retransmission-fees-hit-33-cents-sub-47-2009”)). Furthermore, the combined impact of the FCC’s rules on foreign broadcasting ownership and the national TV ownership/ local TV multiple ownership have prevented Azteca America and MundoFox to develop a network based on their own O&O TV Stations. The economic advantage for a Hispanic network supported solely by its own broadcasting TV infrastructure clearly adds to its already hegemonic position in the market ((Across Platforms from http://www.acrossplatforms.com/)).

Table 1

Table 1. Number of TV signals offered by the national Hispanic TV broadcasters
Source: Data from Across Platforms.

Furthermore, hierarchies of impact are better understood if we also take into account the combined effect of technological status and presence in the main Hispanic markets. The capacity to be visible and have an impact in the cities with the largest Hispanic populations largely defines the future fortune of each network. For instance, out of the 210 Hispanic Designated Market Areas (DMAs) across the country, the 30 largest Hispanic markets represent 78 percent of the entire Hispanic TV Households in the U.S. Even more important is the paramount role of the 10 largest markets for Hispanic media. If we consider only the ten DMAs of Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, San Antonio, Phoenix and Harlingen, they represent 51 percent of the entire universe of Hispanic TV homes in the US ((Nielsen, (2013, January 1). Local Television Market Universe Estimates: Hispanic or Latino TV Homes Estimates as of January 1, 2013 and used throughout the 2012-2013 television season Effective September 22, 2012. Nielsen 2012-2013 DMA ranks. TVB. Local Marketing Soluctions. from “http://www.tvb.org/measurement/131627” http://www.tvb.org/measurement/131627)). The importance of both this market and demographic reality is expressed through the way Univision/UniMás and Telemundo have made their presence known in these main markets, but particularly in the ten largest DMAs ((Across Platforms from http://www.acrossplatforms.com/)).

Table 2

Table 2. Networks presence in the 30 most important Hispanic DMAs
Source: Data from Across Platforms.

The decisive broadcasting presence of Univision followed by Telemundo and UniMás in the markets is mirrored by their respective rating numbers and market shares. In 2013, Univision continued its hegemonic position in the market with 55 percent of the audience share coupled with 15 percent of audience share captured by UniMás, its sister network. Univision Communications in total, thus, has 70 percent of the total share of broadcasting television, while Telemundo, the second ranked television network and its long time competitor, only has 22 percent. In 2012, Estrella TV solidified its position as the fourth largest television network with 3 percent and Azteca America the fifth with 2.4 percent, while for MundoFox there are not yet annual numbers available.

The hegemonic nature of Univision’s broadcasting position has also been translated into its hegemonic position online. Since 2000, Univision’s website (Univision.com) has been consistently ranked as the most visited Spanish-language website in the U.S ((Nielsen, (2004, July 07). Nielsen Media Research Study Finds Univision.com The Most-Visited Spanish-Language Website for Fourth Year in a Row. Business Wire, 1, from “http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/” http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/; HFP, (2004-2013)). Furthermore, the aggressive campaign the company pursued with the merger of their Univision Móvil and Univision.com divisions under the banner of Univision Interactive laid the administrative and technological groundwork for an aggressive strategy of video delivered through different digital and mobile platforms over the last five years. This campaign resulted in the recognition of Univision as “the multiplatform broadcaster of the year” at the end of 2012” ((B&C, (2012, December 24). Stellar Service. Broadcasting & Cable, 142(49): 10-16, from “http://www.broadcastingcable.com/” http://www.broadcastingcable.com/)). While the growth of Univision’s content through cable, digital and mobile platforms is central for Hispanic corporations, the structural basis of its hegemonic presence and further growth has been initially and crucially based upon securing a strong broadcasting infrastructure in the most important markets across the nation.

Image Credits:

1. National Networks; Image collage created by author
2. Hispanic Networks; Table created by author
3. Table 1. Number of TV signals offered by the national Hispanic TV broadcasters; Table created by author
4. Table 2. Networks presence in the 30 most important Hispanic DMAs; Table created by author

Please feel free to comment.