Inside Radio: Culture and Diverse Programming Keep Hispanic Millennials Tuned In

Oct 3, 2016



Hispanic Millennials are known for marrying their contemporary lives with their culture and heritage, and now Hispanic broadcasters are doing their own balancing act to stay connected to this dynamic audience group. For traditionally Spanish-language broadcasters such as Univision, Spanish Broadcasting System and Entravision, that means shaping a Hispanic identity that reflects the range of young U.S. Latinos.

To stay relevant, Hispanic radio execs say, they need to echo the diversity of their listeners.

Hispanic Millennials, who make up 43% of the U.S. Hispanic population, according to Nielsen, are increasingly bilingual and heavy mobile users who are comfortable consuming both English- and Spanish-language media. And in today’s radio industry, they have more choices than ever. “They get to bring their own culture forward in a more accepting environment,” says Corey Elliott, VP of research for Borrell Associates.

With a huge slice of the audience at stake, Hispanic broadcasters say they have the know-how and the goods to best serve this demo.

Young Latinos are very connected to radio, with 85% tuning into AM/FM regularly, and, at the same time, 93% have a mobile device, according to Entravision research. But beyond the welcoming numbers, Entravision’s COO Jeff Liberman notes, “Their heritage and culture is a very big passion point.”

Regional Mexican ranks as the No. 1 format for Latinos 18-34, and Spanish contemporary/Spanish Hot AC was the No. 4 format, according to Nielsen’s latest September “State of the Media” report. (English-language formats rounded out the top 5, with CHR second, rhythmic CHR third and hot AC fifth.)

Regional Mexican commands nearly one-fifth of Hispanic Millennials’ preferential attention, with 18.3% tuning into the format, Nielsen says. While this genre is typically traditional, Spanish broadcasters say a new crop of relatable, young regional Mexican artists is drawing in young Latino listeners. Some of these new artists grew up in the U.S. and are bilingual-to-English-dominant, “But their music and their passion lies in regional Mexican,” says Ismar Santa Cruz, Univision’s VP and managing director of Radio Strategy. “Latinos who have grown up in the U.S., even if they’re English-dominant, have a passion for that same music and they see someone like them, dressed the way they are. We see it reflected in our performance.”

With young Latinos so connected on mobile devices, SBS is relying heavily on its mobile app, La Musica, to bond with the Millennial demo. “On digital, we’re embracing bilingualism and biculturalism,” says executive VP of Digital, Jesus Lara. “We’re trying to super-serve all forms of Hispanic Millennials.”

La Musica, which was retooled last year to skew younger, offers live streams of SBS’ radio stations, along with curated playlists featuring both English and Spanish songs, and suggested algorithmic offerings that predict what a user will want to hear. In its latest move, SBS is adding original, short-form digital video to the app, with about a dozen bilingual and bicultural series on music, entertainment, celebrities and humor, as well as games and quizzes. And while viewers feast on the “snackable” 30- to 90-second videos, they’ll likely hear from cellular company Boost Mobile, La Musica’s new title sponsor. SBS also plans to integrate the wireless company into story lines in two video series, “Toma Nota” and “El Vacilón De La Mañana,” and is adding a Boost Mobile-branded station to the app. Using geo-locating capabilities, the app will also serve up ads to users near Boost retail locations.

On radio, SBS is keeping more to its Spanish-language roots, although Lara says English is sprinkled into some markets.

Whatever the medium, he says Millennials want programming that reflects their lives and their experiences, and will turn away from anything that stinks of pandering. “There’s nothing worse to them than trying to serve them in non-authentic ways,” Lara says.

Understanding the diversity of Hispanic Millennials, Univision programs a wide range of formats to snare young Latinos, from Spanish-language to bilingual formats, including pop and rhythmic stations that mix Spanish and English music and feature DJs who effortlessly segue between the languages. “We’ve learned that the emphasis needs to be on relevant and genuine,” Univision’s Santa Cruz says. “When we have bilingual DJs, it is as if they’re having a conversation with a friend in a coffee shop.” A DJ might speak in English, play a Spanish song and take calls from listeners in Spanish and English. “They manage the content naturally,” Santa Cruz says.

Across several key markets, including Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles, Univision stations are No. 1 with Hispanics 18-34, regardless of language. In L.A., the top Hispanic market, Univision’s Romantica “K-Love” KLVE (107.5) was No. 1 in morning drive in September for all adults 18-34 and Hispanics 18-34, beating out popular English-language options such as “On-Air with Ryan Seacrest” on iHeart’s Top 40 KIIS-FM (102.7) and iHeart’s alternative “Alt 98.7” KYSR’s “The Woody Show, per Nielsen. For average total week audience, KLVE was No. 1 with Hispanics 18-34 and No. 6 for adults 18-34. To perform so well with both the target demos and broader audiences, “is a testament to our assets, and our content leaders and brands,” Santa Cruz notes.

Univision, like SBS, is also trying to reach more young Latinos on its digital assets, including its Euphoria music app, which offers some digital-only stations targeting Millennials. And appealing to younger consumers is an overall corporate pledge at Univision, which has been amassing a stable of young-skewing digital brands including satirical comedy news service The Onion and specialty blog company Gawker Media.

For its part, Entravision is also using its on-air and digital assets to program to Millennials’ evolving tastes. On Saturday nights, for instance, its “Super Estrella” CHR KSEE (101.7) Los Angeles plays English-language electronic dance music, an emerging format. And, like SBS’ new video lineup for its mobile app La Musica, Entravision is dipping into original digital video, signing a deal with digital production studio Chanclazo Studios to make short-form animation.

Such digital efforts, particularly video-based, are smart plays, Borrell’s Elliott says, because “so much of [Hispanic Millennials’] lives are tied up in the palm of their hands.” With young Latinos over-indexing on smartphone usage, digital video usage and YouTube viewing on mobile, “That’s where the opportunities lie,” Elliott says.

Source: Inside Radio

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