Streaming services are offering more Latino-focused options and giving millions of people TV access like never before.

No longer a niche market, “the Latino share of the total U.S. population increased from 16% to 18%” over the last decade, according to The Pew Research Center. That’s over 59 million people (more than the population of California and Florida combined) — a potentially huge amount of subscribers both watching TV and streaming in Spanish services stand to gain by paying attention to the wants and needs of Latino viewers in the U.S. 

A brief history of Spanish-language programming and TV providers

Although Hispanic leisure alternatives are expanding, many TV carriers provide a fragment of the Latino programming that exists. Comcast became most of the first cable TV carriers to cater to the Latino populace through their programming and their clever DVR with a Spanish-language interface option, referred to as the Xfinity X1. DISH and DIRECTV additionally have a very good recognition for providing quite a few Spanish-language programming, mainly stay TV and sports.

Channel disputes frustrate Latino viewers

Several channel disputes resulted in temporary loss of Spanish-language channels across several platforms in recent years. In 2016, AT&T dropped the UniMás family of channels. The dispute was relatively short-lived and channels were restored. DIRECTV, a subsidiary of AT&T, was not affected. 

Then, in 2018, DISH customers lost the Univision family of channels for nine months due to a contract dispute. DISH gave bill credits to all affected customers, but ultimately ended up losing over 250,000 subscribers. Sling, a subsidiary of DISH, also lost these channels during this time period. 

Telemundo and Univision

The two main networks at the forefront of creating Latino programming are Telemundo and Univision. The difference between the two is that Telemundo considers themselves primarily creators of Spanish-language programming, while Univision caters to a younger demographic with more English-language shows. And unlike most English-language TV networks that have experienced overall declining ratings over the last few years, Telemundo and Univision have been increasing due to advertising revenue, according to the Miami Herald

Why is streaming popular with Hispanic viewers?

Streaming is popular for two main reasons: price and quality. “My boyfriend switched from cable to streaming, because DIRECTV was very expensive and didn’t have the latest, best films in the market. Netflix has improved a lot of its own productions, with really good content and high artistic standards,” said Jenny Izaguirre Gonzalez, a Project Coordinator who works with a primarily bilingual team.  

Great storytelling and drama are also key for drawing in Latino viewers, said Nina Rodriguez, a Charlotte copywriter who subscribes to both cable and streaming services. Netflix shows such as Las chicas del cable (Cable Girls), La casa de papel (Money Heist) and Gran Hotel (Grand Hotel) are popular among Latino viewers and, said Rodriguez, “There are some shows that are not in Spanish, but Hispanic people like them because of the storytelling, like Jane the Virgin and One Day at a Time, for example.”

Due to a recent growth spurt in new content, Pluto TV, Pantaya, Sling, Netflix, Tubi, Amazon Prime, FuboTV and Hulu all offer Spanish-language viewing in some capacity. With the growing amount of choices, Latino viewers can shop for the plan that suits their TV preferences and their pocketbook.




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