Confab: Latinos tech savvy

Strong market for satellite, DVDs

The Latino demographic is pulsing with culture, language dynamics, technology interest and overactive purchasing habits, especially when it comes to consuming entertainment, panelists and presenters said Tuesday at the fourth annual Latino DVD Conference in West Hollywood.

The 11 million-strong Latino TV households are about at parity with the market at large when it comes to DVD adoption, said Doug Darfield, analyst with the Nielsen Co.

Nearly 83% of Latino households have a DVD player, compared with 87.5% of the non-Latino overall market, he said. The demo is slower on the uptick for DVR adoption, with just 4.9% of Latino households locked into the time-shifting technology, compared with 9.9% for non-Latino households.

Latinos lead in satellite adoption, however, Darfield said, with 31.4% of Latino households using satellite, compared with 28.6% of the overall population.

"Satellite is the only technology that Hispanics have adopted at a faster rate than the overall population," Darfield said.

Just about half of Latino households are online. Between 2005-06, broadband adoption in Latino homes increased from 40% to 61%, according to Forrester Research presented at the event, produced by Home Media Magazine in cooperation with The Hollywood Reporter, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group and the Entertainment Merchants Assn.

Use of social networking sites among online Latino consumers jumped 20% from 2005 to 2006.

Latinos also rode the wave of online video content that flowed to the Internet in that time frame. Streaming video usage increased 13% between 2005-06, according to the Forrester study. Downloading videos from sites like iTunes soared, from 9% in 2005 to 25% in 2006.

Online is definitely the wave of the future for this demo, just as is for overall entertainment, said a group of panelists who focus on that element of the market.

Burhan Fatah, CEO of Sivoo, a Web site creating and delivering Spanish-language content across genres, gives DVD another five years of dominance before most behavior shifts online, primarily via ad-supported video viewing, or free VOD.

Already, the Latino market is following the trend toward acquiring longform, professionally produced video content online and away from the short-burst, user-generated hype of the past year or so, Fatah said.

"Telenovelas, which run 30 minutes long, have a 90% completion rate in online viewing," he said.

It's wrong to lump the Latino consumer into a single overall category, said Fernando Espuelas, founder and CEO of Voy.tv, an online community for Latinos, which will be working with upcoming Internet TV service Joost.com.

There are two kinds of Latinos in the country, he said — native born and immigrants. Media behaviors in those two groups vary vastly. And while most Latinos have a strong emotional connection to the Spanish language, increasing numbers are speaking English, often exclusively, he said.

That's not bad news, he said. That expands the market to include "Latinophiles," consumers who have a connection to Spanish language and culture, but who may be native to the U.S., or even non-Latino.

The family dynamic is particularly important to Latino demo of the market, panelists and presenters said.

Nearly half the Latino households in the country have children in them, compared with one-third of non-Latino households, according to Nielsen research.

Jessica Wolf is senior editor of Home Media Magazine.
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