Why Latino Networks and Publications Are Tanking

Most of these Latino entities that are tanking tend to be relatively conservative. Because, you know, they're afraid to offend mami and papi. So they take zero to no risks producing or promoting over-the-top content. The stuff that tends to go viral.
05/22/2014 11:03 am ET Updated Jul 22, 2014

To network executives: See the error in your ways. There are many and they're costing you millions.

Example A:

Executives of the Atlanta-based cable network made it clear why it closed: "CNN Latino was not able to fulfill our business expectations," according to a statement. Translation: CNN Latino was not getting the ratings that would impel advertisers to invest in the programming.

And B:

Over at NBC, a spokesman said in a statement that the closure: "will allow its content to reach a much larger audience and it will further enhance NBC News's commitment and ability to cover news and issues that matter to the Latino community."

These are excerpts from a great piece by Hispanic Online Marketing. Every time I read these things, I cringe. These network executives are really talking to the wrong people and giving little access to anybody else. Of course the ratings are going to tank.

"Cover issues that matter to the Latino community." Wow. Just, wow. How in the world are you in marketing and not come to the conclusion that what the audience asks for is not really what they spend their time eyeballing?

People want to seem altruistic, deep, even morally superior to others, but when it comes to entertainment, we're all sinners. I hate dropping clichés, but don't bring activists to your table when speaking of entertainment. The action of the public is what counts. Business is business. We keep talking charity, acting like moral puritans, and then complain when we get dismissed because this angle isn't working.

Don't blame it on the community for their lack of support. You failed. You failed as an executive. You failed as a producer. You failed as a writer. You failed as an entertainer. Because, at the end of the day, if you're looking to reach people, don't preach. Play by their own terms, not yours. And not the terms they tell you, but the ones they show you. The community has no obligation to support. That's why I tell it to consume "Latino" content instead. So they don't feel like it's charity. We tend to look after number one first, and, trust me, spending time and money on entertainment comes before any cute phantom spirit of unity and philanthropy.

Further, this approach may be perceived as condescending to some, especially Hispanics who are fluent in English. Imagine if there was a "Black NBC" or "White CNN." Adding a word like "Latino" -- or some other label in an attempt to target a specific audience -- sets that group apart. The message may be interpreted as: I'm different and not good enough for the main brand.

This is, unfortunately, correct. We are no longer a nation apart. The youth, the Latino youth, the white and Black (Asian, Native American, you name it), live in a multicultural/multiracial world and they're more willing to befriend "others" than past generations. I've asked people how they felt about coming across content that's Latino. Most non-Latinos feel excluded. That they feel it isn't for them. That they aren't invited to the party. This is exactly what you don't want. People like to watch content that they can share with their friends regardless of their ethnicity or race.

So why are these past generations calling the shots if they're so out of touch? One thing is for sure, you put Latino anything in front, middle, back of anything, you are pretty much dooming it before it even launches.

I can think of one entity that has managed to break that mold and that is Being Latino. It is quickly on its way to attain and surpass the one million fans (it currently has over 1.5 million under its umbrella) mark while reaching millions of people.

That came at a price, though, and that price was to go all the way left by creating and re-sharing questionable, yet extremely entertaining, content. That peeved a lot Latino bastions of morality and rightly so, but when it comes to content, public opinion means nothing compared to public action. That's how the general market has survived, flourished and/or managed to stay afloat. It evolved with the times through actions that you might already be familiar with: Click-bait and risqué. Content that is bound to make your pearl-clutching auntie go into a faux nervous breakdown. That brings in the numbers and advertisers.

Most of these Latino entities that are tanking tend to be relatively conservative. Because, you know, they're afraid to offend mami and papi. So they take zero to no risks producing or promoting over-the-top content. The stuff that tends to go viral. The stuff that the Latino millennials are creating themselves (on Vine, Youtube, Instagram, Facebook) and getting millions of hits without the obtuse gatekeepers at the helm.

Take risks. Bring in people that have a general understanding of what people like. Let's move this thing forward already.