Saturday, December 23, 2006

New Television and US Hispanics

Television networks have for a long time ignored social trends. Slowly they have seen their share eroding as alternative media channels become more relevant in people's lives. It is interesting that Desperate Housewives have claimed a large viewership that includes many US Hispanics. Its obvious sex appeal makes it relevant to many people. But also it is its diversity and the extent to which the audience can see themselves in the screen.

Identification with characters in entertainment has been known, for a long time, to make a difference in attracting audiences. Nevertheless, television networks, perhaps concerned with losing their mainstay audience, did not seem to notice that society and their audience had changed dramatically. Not only have they been ignoring their growing audiences at the expense of their dwindling past fans, but they had not noticed that new even what they call the "mainstream" had changed its taste in favor of what is "cool." And "Latino" has been increasingly "cool." Ugly Betty, a show that started in Spanish language TV in Spanish several years ago now it is shown in English by ABC to the delight of many diverse audiences. The universal value of a woman who appears to be ugly but that is "beautiful," is relevant to many, and interestingly, it has cultural nuances relevant to US Hispanics.

The new Hispanic audience for television is not focusing on the Spanish language exclusively. It is focusing on cultural relevance. "General" audiences enjoy seeing others who are "cool" that also reflect universal values. We shall not wait too long to see more of what the industry calls "cross-over" appeal.

The old shows targeted to Hispanics, largely from Latin America, had ignored the new identify of Hispanics in the US. New and successful entertainment needs to reflect the life of US Hispanics as it is here, not there. This is the new "New World."

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