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Hispanic Media

Economics

By the Project for Excellence in Journalism

Whatever the long-term demographic picture may bring, Spanish-language media had a good 2006, the last year for which data are available. Hispanic newspaper publishers took in record-breaking ad revenues, and, thanks to World Cup fans, leading Spanish-language broadcaster Univision also had a good year.

For Hispanic newspapers, ad revenues broke the $1 billion mark for the first time, according to data from the Latino Print Network. Ad revenues hit $1.12 billion in 2006, up from $996 million in 2005 – an increase of 13%. That kind of double-digit jump is almost unheard of in a sector used to revenue declines. (See Newspaper Chapter)

Hispanic U.S. Newspaper Ad Revenue
Design Your Own Chart
Source: Kirk Whisler & Latino Print Network, Carlsbad, CA

What’s more, the revenue increases seem to come amid a steep decline in national advertising dollars. Only 18% of the ad dollars in Hispanic newspapers came from national advertisers, down substantially from 37% in 2005. But those numbers come from a misreporting in the 2005 figures, according to Kirk Whisler of the Latino Print Network. The real situation, however, is the number has been essentially flat for the past few years.

National v. Local Revenue in Hispanic Newspapers
Design Your Own Chart
Source: Kirk Whisler & Latino Print Network, Carlsbad, CA http://www.latinoprintnetwork.com/

Tapping into the national ad market and the “big box” stores – like Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart – has been a major goal for Hispanic publishers, but one that, as yet, has not been met.

National ads hold great growth promise for Hispanic publishers. Hispanics make up 14% of the U.S. population and roughly 8% of national buying power, but still capture only 3% of the ad buy, according to Edward Schumacher Matos, former chairman and CEO of the Rumbo newspaper chain in Texas.1 Increasing that percentage may involve selling national advertisers on their need to reach the Hispanic market.

Still, the fact that so much ad revenue (82%) comes from local advertisers has its advantages for Hispanic publishers.2 Small businesses may be more immune to macroeconomic trends than big stores, where ad buys are decided in multi-million-dollar budgets. Community businesses that depend on local foot traffic might be more likely to keep ads going in lean times and they also may be more likely to worry about holding on to customers who could just as easily take their business to a competitor down the street.

As growth continues in newer ethnic communities, where weeklies flower, it is likely that the ads from small businesses will follow.

And even without big national ad dollars, Hispanic newspaper ad revenues have had considerable growth over the past 15 years – an increase of more than $1 billion since 1990 and an average growth of about $68 million a year.3 Such growth is impressive by most calculations, particularly in a time when many print outlets are hurting.

The numbers for Hispanic newspapers in 2006 were positive across the board – for dailies, weeklies and less-than-weeklies.

Revenues by Type of Newspaper

Looking more closely at the numbers, it was the weeklies that saw the biggest jump in ad revenue in 2006, to $434 million from $346 million in 2005, an increase of 25%.4 That increase of $88 million may have to do with the surge in the number of weekly publications in 2006. Thirty-four weekly Hispanic newspapers were begun in 2006, including two that converted from dailies to weeklies.

For dailies, ad revenues increased 6% to $650 million in 2006 from $611 million in 2005. That increase came even as the number of dailies tallied by the Latino Print Network declined to 38 from 42.

Less-than-weeklies saw a less substantial jump – to $41 million in 2006 from $39 million in 2005 – an increase of 5%.

Hispanic Newspaper Revenues by Publication Category
2005 vs. 2006
Design Your Own Chart
Source: Kirk Whisler & Latino Print Network, Carlsbad, CA http://www.latinoprintnetwork.com

As time goes by and new immigrants settle into these expanding pockets of the country, it seems likely local advertising in smaller weekly and less-than-weekly papers will keep pace. And, as communities and ad revenue grow, less-than-weeklies may give way to weeklies, which may eventually give way to dailies.

Broadcast Outlets

The Spanish-language broadcast giant Univision had a particularly good 2006 (the latest year for which data are available), setting a new record for company net income. It was a bounce-back year for Univision after disappointing sales in 2005. 2007 continued the increase, albeit at a much slower rate.

For 2007, Univision reported net revenue increases over 2006 of 8.4%, to $2.073 billion. The Spanish-language media company also posted increases in adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization: 10.9% to $248 million for the quarter and 7.8% to $863.2 million for the year.

The year-end data for 2006, however, were even much brighter for the popular Spanish-language company. Univision’s 2006 income was up, to $349 million from $187 million in 2005 – a leap of $162 million or 86% in just 12 months.5 What was behind that big bump?

Univision Net Income, 2001-2007
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For one, it appears the 2005 drop might have been a one-year blip. That year, the company was forced by the Justice Department to sell off all but 15% of its stake in its Entravision subsidiary. That $349 million translates into a 36% increase in 2005 over 2004, which falls in line with the increases Univision had seen since 2001.

There was, however, another factor in 2006 – soccer’s World Cup in Germany. Hispanics bring their fondness for soccer when they come to the U.S., one of the few countries where it is not a major sport. Univision scored the rights to air one of the world’s largest sporting events in Spanish in the U.S., and with those rights came big money. By the third quarter of 2005, Univision reported it had secured a record $180 million in advertising commitments for the Cup.

And the impact of those ads extended beyond the tournament or even 2006. Companies that aired ads during the soccer games had to agree to buy again at other points in the year and in 2007. 6

The purchase of Univision in 2006 by a private company removed it from the stock market, but investors have two other big options – Entravision, the multi-media company Univision was forced to mostly divest, and Spanish Broadcasting, an owner of 15 radio stations in five cities and Puerto Rico. (The other large Hispanic broadcaster, Telemundo, is owned by NBC Universal, which is part of General Electric.)

Neither of those companies has done particularly well in the stock market in recent years, but Entravision had a small edge. In the summer of 2007, three analysts moved Entravision from “neutral” to “buy.” One analyst cited a possible sale of the company’s outdoor advertising unit and growing political advertising spending going into the 2008 election season, but also longer-term structural trends among the Hispanic media – particularly demographic trends among Hispanics that may favor English-language media.

Another analyst held the Entravision rating at “neutral,” noting a “soft industry backdrop.”

Spanish Broadcasting, meanwhile, sits in “neutral” with most analysts, though it was upgraded from “sell” by some.7

While these two companies remain the biggest investment options for those looking to get into the Hispanic media market, analysts do not seem especially keen on the longer-term outlooks. Analysts did say they saw possible short-term gains in both stocks thanks to the possible election-year advertising and the selling off of some parts of each, but those are not the kind of recommendations that come with a forecast of big industry growth.

Because the biggest companies have gone private (in Univision’s case) or disappeared inside a massive conglomerate (Telemundo’s current state within GE), Hispanic broadcasters may be entering a new era where investors may not play as much of a role.

Ethnic Media Online

Like mainstream media outlets, the longer-term prognosis for the ethnic media likely will hinge on the development of online outlets. The ethnic media over all have been slower than other media to move online, despite definite advantages, including the elimination of press costs and the ability to target niches audiences across geographic boundaries.

Heading into 2008, that digital foot-dragging may be changing as companies look to invest in the Web. Over all, however, Hispanics still lag behind the rest of America in online use. A joint study from the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Internet & American Life in March 2007 found that 56% of adult Latinos go online. That is lower than 71% of non-Hispanic whites and 60% of non-Hispanic blacks, but it is a big increase over past studies that have shown the percentage much lower.

The numbers are not uniform across all groups of Latinos, the study found. Rather, 78% who were English-dominant were online, as were 76% of bilingual Hispanics. But when the population’s language was Spanish-dominant, the number dropped to 32%.

It isn’t yet clear what this means for media organizations looking to invest in Spanish-language online content. And as this diverse ethnic group grows and changes, perhaps leading toward a more English-dominant or bilingual Hispanic population, the future becomes even cloudier.

There were still some signs in 2007 that Hispanic outlets were beginning to shift their attention to the Web.

In July, Univision launched a social networking platform, Mi Página, for its users. Univision’s site is by far the biggest Spanish-language destination on the Web and the company’s new CEO, Joe Uva, said this was just the first of several new online moves for the company. In the fall, the site also launched a new video-sharing functionality that allows users to post videos, as well as an exclusive online mini-novella.

Internet revenues are growing for Univision, accounting for $11.6 million through the first nine months of 2007, up from $9.2 million in the same period in 2006 – an increase of 26%. But that $11.2 million is a small fraction of the company’s overall revenue.

“We believe that based on the success of the original content we do on the Web that we will perhaps be able to take that content to television, as opposed to doing what today is in vogue – taking just television content to broadband,” Uva told the Hollywood Reporter.

In print, ImpreMedia, the Spanish-language chain with publications in 23 U.S. cities, including some of the leading newspapers (La Opinión in Los Angeles and El Diario-La Prensa in New York), announced the creation of a digital division in 2007. The new division’s mandate “not only include updates to our existing industry-leading newspaper online sites,” the company said, but “the development of new digital content sites as well.”

ImpreMedia Digital plans to develop sites inside the company and also look to acquire new digital media properties.

Footnotes

1. Mark Fitzgerald, “Reflections on ‘Rumbo’,” Marketing y Medios, February 5, 2007: http://www.marketingymedios.com/marketingymedios/noticias/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003541787.

2. Latino Print Network State of Hispanic Print 2006, http://www.latinoprintnetwork.com/assets/StateofHispanicPrint.pdf.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Hoovers : http://www.hoovers.com/univision/–ID__51512–/free-co-factsheet.xhtml.

6. Paul R. La Monica. “The World Cup’s GOOOOOOOOALLLL!” CNNMoney.com, February 1, 2006: http://money.cnn.com/2006/02/01/commentary/mediabiz/index.htm

7. Adweek, October 3, 2007.