Time Warner Cable and Univision Communications recently announced a major development. Last week, both companies announced their distribution agreement of a multi-platform, multi-year project to deliver additional Univision content to Time Warner Cable and Bright House Network subscribers. This agreement between one of the nation’s largest cable providers and top Spanish-language network has great implications for America’s growing minority segments and for the future of diverse programming.
Time Warner Cable and Univision’s agreement, which was finalized well in advance of the expiration of their current agreement, will bring a wide-ranging selection of U.S. Spanish-language television to Time Warner Cable customers. The agreement states that Time Warner Cable will include Univision’s new networks to its lineup, including Univision Deportes, Univision tlNovelas and FOROtv. To top it off, Time Warner Cable will be amongst the first distributors to carry filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network – a new English-language entertainment cable network geared towards young adult audiences and slated to launch at the end of the year.
This multiplatform deal has also led to a “first-of-its-kind” local news partnership intended to better serve Hispanic audiences in key markets such as Los Angeles, New York and other shared markets through Time Warner Cable’s partnership with Univision’s Television Group.
Univision Communications, founded in 1962, was the only national Spanish-language network for two solid decades. But now it is known outside of Spanish-speaking households and has also entered into distribution deals with Hulu and Microsoft Xbox. Demand for Spanish-language networks continues to grow. Networks such as Telemundo, MundoFox and Azteca America are just a few examples – some of which are already outperforming English-language networks.
This should come as no surprise. The U.S. Hispanic population has grown to nearly 50 million, and Hispanic buying power is expected to increase to $1.5 trillion annually by 2015, according to a 2012 Nielsen report on Hispanic consumers.
Last year’s presidential election is another example of the power of Univision and its Latino and minority viewership. After the Presidential Debate Commission announced that a lineup of two white women and two white men would moderate the four rhetorical face-offs between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, and that of Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden – Univision responded. As did a host of other organizations including the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the NAACP and LULAC.
Univision reproached the Presidential Debate Commission’s decision, accusing the commission of ignoring the growing size and significance of the Latino and black populations. And in response, Univision organized a first-ever presidential forum where both presidential candidates were interviewed individually on separate days. Needless to say, both candidates jumped at the opportunity.
Univision’s forum was an opportunity for the presidential candidates to talk about critical issues of concern to voters of color that had been unaddressed before the election and to talk about concerns specific to the growing Hispanic electorate. The forum ended up drawing in 1.6 million viewers during Mitt Romney’s segment, and the forum with President Obama drew in 2.7 million viewers, far exceeding network expectations.
With Hispanic TV audiences growing, such a partnership between Time Warner Cable and Univision only makes sense. It is an agreement that should be modeled after.
The cultural shift that we are seeing in America is one of the main reasons why it is important for cable providers to include diverse programming and content in their service offerings. The face and language of the land has changed, and so should what its audiences see on TV. If cable providers wish to continue to maintain a piece of the market pie, they need to get on board with the wants and needs of a multicultural society. And get on board is what Time Warner Cable has done.
Time Warner Cable, however, is not just getting on board, but they are going all out. In addition to picking up Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network, recent reports show that they recently signed a deal to carry Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’s Network, Revolt TV – a 24-hour music network that intends to provide continuous streaming of interviews, music videos, original programming and news across an array of musical genres. Both El Rey and Revolt TV will likely bring with them key minority audiences and adult viewers between the ages of 18 and 34.
While both new networks will have something for everyone, Time Warner Cable’s partnership with Univision will finally create the opportunity for people of color to see themselves reflected more on the Television screen.
While the cable industry continues to make positive strides towards improving the quality and availability of diverse programming and content, there is still progress to be made. This move by Time Warner Cable and Univision is a great partnership example. Perhaps other industry players should consider following in their footsteps.