There are currently more than 50 million Latinos living in the United States. Three-quarters of the Latino population, approximately 38 million, speak Spanish. TV Networks have been unable to find ways to reach this growing population of Latinos. After lack luster attempts to create television for Hispanics, networks are now turning to Hispanic entrepreneurs and others to help find ways to create shows for this evolving group.
Sofia Vegara, the Hispanic “Modern Family” actress, is becoming a household name. She currently does commercials for Pepsi and Covergirl and has a line of clothing at Kmart. Even though Vegara is popular with Americans, her show “Modern Family” has a low Hispanic viewership. The hit show has nearly 1 million, but only 6% of them are Latinos. This is proof that networks just can’t feature a Hispanic star and expect Hispanic viewers to watch.
The majority of Hispanics in the United States watch Spanish language networks. The telenovela“La Que No Podia Amor” that runs on the Univision network, brings in huge Hispanic numbers each week. The numbers surpass those on non-Spanish language networks and this leaves networks asking what they need to do to gain more Hispanic viewership.
Surveys completed by Hispanic entrepreneurs and college students showed that there is a need for a “The Cosby Show” type show featuring a typical Hispanic family. “The Cosby Show” was popular with people because it showed African American culture without being offensive or being filled with stereotypes. The surveys suggested that networks should look into creating a Hispanic version of this popular classic show. ABC is currently in the works of releasing “Devious Maids” next season. This show is based around a Latino stereotype of Hispanics working as maids in Hollywood. Individuals completing surveys all reported that the basis of the show alone was highly offensive and that they would not watch. We will have to wait until the Fall to see if they’re not alone. The results from the survey also showed that Hispanics can’t relate to Vegara’s character on “Modern Family” and this could be the reason why many are not watching the show.
In short, if networks want to bring in more Hispanic viewers, they need to find a way to embrace the unique culture. Further, there needs to be the right balance between proper storytelling language, heritage, and stereotype avoidance. If networks continue to turn to Hispanics to see what they want to see on TV perhaps they will get it right at some point.
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