FX Courts Latinos for Crime Thriller 'The Bridge'

The Bridge FX - H 2013

The Bridge FX - H 2013

Early screenings, Q&As in bilingual media and a multicity mural project help boost awareness among a potential Hispanic viewership of 48 million.

This story first appeared in the June 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

FX's new drama The Bridge could be retitled El Puente. The cable network is courting a big Latino audience for the July 10 bow of the crime thriller about tensions on the U.S.-Mexico border, part of a new marketing focus on a demo that now totals 48 million viewers, according to Nielsen. Much as FX Networks CEO John Landgraf did with bikers for Sons of Anarchy or horror fans with American Horror Story, the network is hypertargeting Latinos with early screenings and Q&As for the bilingual media, a mural contest in Latino communities and plans to rerun the show on MundoFox dubbed in Spanish. FX says awareness already is at 28 percent among Latino viewers, much higher than the industry average of 10.5 percent (FX series typically average 12 percent).

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"When we watched this show, we saw the potential to do outreach with a Hispanic audience," says FX marketing senior vp Sally Daws. Identifying ways to capture those viewers, which FX is doing with the assistance of Latino-focused marketing agency Conill, will prove particularly helpful as the network sets out to launch other Latino-friendly projects, including the upcoming George Lopez comedy Saint George. The move comes at a time when English-language networks increasingly are looking to lure the Latino demo. CBS tried (and failed) with a Rob Schneider comedy ¡Rob!, ABC has played up Sofia Vergara's involvement in Modern Family and Lifetime is looking to draw Latino viewers with its adaptation of the hit Mexican series Devious Maids. The latter, which counts Eva Longoria as a producer, is previewing its pilot on digital platforms in English and Spanish. At stake is a share of the $3.6 billion in ads directed at the Hispanic market.

That Oscar-nominated Mexican actor Demian Bichir (A Better Life) stars with Diane Kruger is an added benefit for FX. Execs have enlisted him to speak at events in Latino communities, in addition to a May 20 screening at Los Angeles' Pacific Design Center. Other attempts to reach the audience include an FX microsite available in Spanish and an on-set producer generating material for Hispanic media. The most creative of the outreach efforts is in process, with murals set to be unveiled in Hispanic neighborhoods in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston and Chicago the weekend before The Bridge premieres. "We know that the Hispanic audience isn't a monolithic block, but we can't subtarget every single piece of that audience," adds Daws. "We're trying to reach out to them in a way that resonates."