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Latino DVD Market Poised for Growth

8 Apr, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey

LOS ANGELES — Nielsen Media Research says one in five Latinos in the United States is under age 12. The heads of Latino households are generally younger than those of non-Latinos. And for three straight years, the number of foreign-born heads of Latino households has declined.

Marketing Latino DVDs is definitely becoming a different ballgame.

Studios, filmmakers and consumers gathered April 8 for Home Media Magazine's Fifth Annual Latino DVD Conference to discuss the challenges and opportunities in Latino entertainment.

“Basically, we're looking at half the population (being) ‘Spanish dominant,’ said, Doug Darfield, SVP of multicultural measurement for Nielsen Media Research, referring to the main language spoken in the household. “In 14.1% of households in the U.S., only Spanish is spoken.” The top five markets for Spanish-speaking households are Los Angeles, New York, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Houston and Chicago, he said.

Latino households in the U.S. are a bit behind the rest of the nation when it comes to DVD-player penetration, but ahead of non-Latinos when it comes to owning video games, Darfield added. Latinos lag behind non-Latinos in using the Internet, but rent more DVDs and subscribe to video game services more than non-Latinos.

That's just some of the data studios and independents need to have at the ready when marketing to Latinos, Darfield said.

“When a Latino film comes out … I see it almost as reintroducing ourselves to the market,” said David Hernandez, director of multicultural marketing for Warner Home Video.

Content owners need to think hard about their Spanish-speaking audience when it comes to marketing a DVD, panelists agreed. What works for the large Mexican population on the West Coast may not work as well with Puerto Ricans on the East Coast.

“It's also diverse in age,” said Monica Ricardez, director of market and business development for Laguna Productions, adding three generations of Latinos often have to be considered. “It's not just diverse in culture. You sometimes need to separate different types of (product) when doing marketing.

“Act national, but also as regional as you can.”

Getting Latino content to Latino consumers can be a challenge, however, especially when retailers largely treat Latino DVD as a stepchild to mainstream theatrical and TV DVD.

“That's one weakness they have,” said Haydee Rios with Xenon Pictures. “They're not promoting their Latino sections yet.”

“They are evaluating the Latino section they created a few years ago,” said Victor Elizalde with Maya Entertainment, of one of the major chain retailers. “They're asking ‘Are you holding your own with this space? If not, we're going to take it out.’

Which makes the idea of releasing Spanish-language films on Blu-ray Disc an even riskier idea, panelists agreed. “Doing something BD is not inexpensive, for us or for the retailer,” Warner's Hernandez said.

If the big-box retailers aren't giving Latino DVD its due, smaller brick-and-mortar stores and digital distribution channels are the way to go for now.

“Mom and pop shops have a lot more movies that you won't find in the big stores,” said Ruby Cardenas, a consumer who shared her thoughts on Latino DVD with the audience.And with the Latino population in the United States getting younger and more tech-savvy, it may be only a matter of time before they start looking for their Latino content mainly through the Internet and video-on-demand.

“We're looking at a generation of people …. who are growing up with the Internet,” said filmmaker Anayansi Prado. “The Internet, it's the next wave for distribution for really getting the work out there.”

But getting a Latino-centered digital distribution model set up is proving more difficult than for mainstream films. A bilingual movie Internet site, www.butaca.com, is launching in May, but the kinks are still being worked out, said site co-founder Pedro Alonzo.

“Really what we're trying to do is create a sustainable model to wait it out while the consumer (catches on),” he said. “If you look at what Comcast delivers (on demand) in Spanish, it's a joke.

Starrett Berry, VP of distribution for bilingual LATV Networks said: “We don't look at it as the Latino market. We look at it as a segment of the youth market.”

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