The headline on the cover of the new issue of Forbes magazine is hard to miss: “The Next Media Jackpot,” it blares. The subhead reads: “Murdoch, Comcast and Disney battle for control of the $1 trillion Hispanic market.”
The photo on the cover is even harder to miss. It’s of the Colombia-born beauty Sofia Vergara. It calls her “television’s best-paid actress.”
The article inside the Aug. 6th issue delivers: The 2010 census revealed that there are now 52 million Americans of Latin descent, and they comprise the fastest-growing group. By 2050, the number is expected to hit 133 million – or one in three Americans. The “niche” is quickly becoming mainstream.
As a result, the media scramble is on. For example, Comcast, the parent of NBCUniversal, is backing a new network called El Rey, Forbes reported. Univision, the longtime dominant Spanish-language broadcaster, has launched three networks this year to try to keep up. In a real sign of the mainstreaming of Latino broadcasting, Univision next year will roll out an English-language, 24-hour cable news network in partnership with Walt Disney Co.’s ABC.
And in a particularly important development, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is taking the plunge. It is launching its national Latino network called MundoFox. It expects to reach 75 percent of Hispanic households with its first broadcast in August.
I’m bringing all this up because this explosion of Latino media is being felt, and will be felt, in Los Angeles. Probably mostly in Los Angeles. You’ve already read names of media outlets that are based here or have big operations here – Disney, NBCUniversal, Univision.
MundoFox? It is headquartered in Century City, as our media and entertainment reporter, Jonathan Polakoff, wrote in his June 11 piece about the network’s launch.
There are plenty more, albeit smaller, examples that have been documented in Business Journal articles in recent years by Polakoff and Joel Russell, who covers Hispanic businesses.
For example, Estrella TV, a Spanish-language broadcast network, launched in 2009 from Burbank. It has more than 30 affiliates, including KRCA (Channel 62) in Los Angeles.
Azteca America, the U.S. subsidiary of Mexico’s second largest broadcaster, has been based in Glendale for several years now. It has 70 stations in the United States including KAZA (Channel 47) in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is also home to many Hispanic ad agencies, including Sensis and La Agencia de Orci. Mercury Media, one of the largest infomercial companies, launched a division three years ago to deliver infomercials in Spanish to U.S. viewers.
Digital media also is represented. NuevON is a YouTube channel begun by L.A. digital studio Electus earlier this year.
We could go on. The point is that Hispanic media is a boom industry, a surprising number of Latino media outlets are already here and more are likely to migrate here. After all, Los Angeles is a natural home for them. (It wouldn’t bother me one bit if Sofia Vergara moved here.)
The diaspora of the traditional entertainment industry has been well covered and much lamented and rightly so. The slow bleeding of L.A.’s signature business is a deep loss.
But what hasn’t been so well noticed or appreciated is the profound influx of Latin media. Whether it’ll enough to offset the loss of the entertainment industry is a different question. But at least we can point to Latino media as a growth industry for Los Angeles.
Charles Crumpley is editor of the Business Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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