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Media compete for bilingual market

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bilingualReaching out to Hispanics worked for Obama. Now, formerly all-Spanish media networks are partnering with English-language networks in competition for the rapidly growing Hispanic bilingual, bicultural market. For media companies looking to grow outlets and advertising profits, Hispanics are less a niche market, and more like the U.S. media future. 

Telemundo, the number two U.S. Spanish-language network, led the parade when it merged with NBC to create NBC Universal. Several years ago, Telemundo created a cable channel, Mun2 (pronounced “mundos,” a play on “two worlds”), which went way beyond traditional telenovelas and offered a range of bilingual programs, including reality shows. The Fox network followed by launching MundoFox, a Spanish-language broadcast network that offered English closed-captioning on some of its shows. 

Now, both are battling a new competitor – last year the Spanish-language media giant Univision teamed up with ABC News. The network is partnering with ABC News on a 24-hour news and information channel called Fusion that is set to debut in late summer, 2013. 

Some reports say Univision is also talking to Disney to create an all-English news channel for Hispanics. Another sign that Univision wants to be a hybrid language network is that it began broadcasting its prime-time telenovelas with English subtitles. 

This media-merging madness is faithfully following the market research. Most of the Hispanic population growth in the past decade came from native-born kids, not immigration. In addition, the research shows that, currently, only about one-fifth of U.S. Hispanics prefer Spanish-language TV programs. Most, about 80 percent, are bilingual or prefer their shows in English. 

Nor is the Hispanic consumer outreach explosion limited to television. The on-line news site, Huffington Post, has created Huffington Post Latino Voices. Fox on-line created Fox News Latino. Now, CNN, which already has CNN en Español, is forming its own channel that will carry bilingual news.

In the magazine world, Condé Nast and the Hearst Corporation are competing for territory in the Hispanic market. Condé Nast’s Glamour has a new quarterly supplement titled Glam Belleza Latina. Hearst has a bi-annual, Cosmopolitan for Latinas, which will go quarterly this year. Rolling Stone magazine introduced a bilingual insert last fall showcasing Latino music stars, with a different cover featuring Pitbull. The competition for Hispanics also is happening in radio, social media and on mobile platforms. 

Media biggies that were once adversaries are now becoming friends because they recognize that bilingual, bicultural Hispanics are a force to be reckoned with, particularly second-generation Hispanic millennials, ages 18 to 29, who speak little Spanish and would rather be talked to in English.

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