On the Bandwagon: Netflix, Español, and the Future of Content Marketing

If you haven’t checked out Netflix’s original series House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black (both of which we’ve talked about on the blog), among others, it’s about time.

These shows are funny, dark, and wildly popular – and their success is evidenced by the fact that both have been renewed for a third season as of this year. However, the online streaming giant is only getting started. This year, Netflix announced its first Spanish language series will debut in 2015 – a decision that emphasizes the importance of jumping on the Spanish language bandwagon.

What’s in Store – En Español

Netflix already offers Spanish language content with subtitles on existing films and TV series, as well as streaming for some Spanish language films that have already been released. But, let’s focus on what’s coming: the first original Spanish series that Netflix will produce.

The upcoming show is currently untitled but promises to deliver, with the same production team behind Mexican box office hit Nosotros los Nobles (“We Are the Nobles”), a sort of Latin American version of Arrested Development (also produced in part by Netflix). Nosotros los Nobles follows the story of a rich family that is suddenly forced to deal with losing all their assets.

nobles

The new comedy is set in the world of professional soccer – or fútbol – and will center a feud amongst family members who have inherited a soccer club after the death of its owner. The show will be shot in Mexico and will feature a pan-Latin-American cast, including Luis Gerardo Mendez from Nosotros los Nobles.

A Push for Diversity in Media

To quote the chief content officer of Netflix, Ted Sarandos, “We’re confident our members in a market as important to us as Mexico and Latin America will love this family comedy.” But, why the focus on the Mexican and Latino/a market? And, what does that mean for content marketing in the United States?

Well, to start, there’s been a huge upswing in diversity for over-the-top (OTT) content. Let’s consider the aforementioned Orange is the New Black – which has been praised for its representation of Black and Latina characters, as well as its representation of the LGBT spectrum with characters like Sophia Burset, played by Laverne Cox, a black transgender woman who came from a working class background.

Sophia-OITNB

Hollywood is facing more and more criticism for its lack of diversity. Only six percent of Oscar voters are people of color, and minorities remain relatively invisible in the media, according to Star Trek actor Faran Tahir. A diversity report released earlier this year noted that out of 172 films created in 2011, only 10.5 percent featured a minority in the lead role. 2012 saw a total of 28.4 percent of speaking roles going to female actors.

It’s no wonder OTT content is working hard to catch up. This year, Netflix passed 35 million subscribers in the US alone. As a result, the service has to broaden its appeal to more than just a homogenized audience, represented by the “average” white, middle class American.

Netflix and other OTT services, like Hulu and Amazon Instant Video, are also expanding outside the United States. Diversity becomes even more important in this case, as these services will begin to compete with similar content offered by local services. In order to rise above, Netflix is doing what no other online streaming service has done: creating original Spanish language content. Previously, available Spanish content was fairly limited – but now Netflix has placed itself as a content leader and has picked up 13.6 million subscribers overseas.

Spanish on the Internet: A Growing Hispanic Market

OTT services like Netflix are jumping on a bandwagon that actually already exists in the world of online content creation. English, of course, owns the internet, with roughly 56 percent of websites available in the language. The number goes down pretty substantially after that, but Spanish still beats out other widely spoken languages like French and Chinese – and it’s also the second most used language in the United States.

In addition, half of Hispanic internet users are US-born, and 76 percent access the internet on a mobile device. These stats are emblematic of recent exponential growth of the Latino/a market in the United States. There are over 50 million potential Latino/a consumers in the US alone – that is to say, roughly 16 percent of the nation is Hispanic. The percentage is even greater in states like California, where 40 percent of the population is Latino/a.

Spanish, again, reigns supreme in the United States. Over 74 percent of Latino/as in the US speak Spanish at home, and – speaking of internet usage – an enormous Spanish language population uses mobile devices for online social media and shopping (80 percent and 49 percent, respectively).

What does it all mean? It comes down to this: the Spanish language market expands far “north of the border,” which means Spanish content is already being consumed in the United States. Netflix’s original series isn’t just catering to an overseas market; it’s also expanding the number of consumers reached in the US. It’s a smart move.

The Spanish Content Bandwagon

Let’s talk about some other online content giants that have pioneered Spanish language content. For example, Hulu offers Spanish dubs of English-language children’s shows, like Caillou – but that’s not all. Spanish speakers can also stream popular telenovelas, as well as Spanish language counterparts to popular American shows, like Metas Tasis – the Mexican version of Breaking Bad. Hulu also offers Spanish language films popular in Latin America and the US, like Instructions Not Included. While none of this content is originally created by Hulu, it’s definitely a win for the company. The online hub “Hulu Latino” caters specifically to this demographic.

hulu-latino

Another streaming service, HBO GO, launched its Spanish language content options in 2012. On “HBO Latino,” viewers can keep English subtitles or turn them off to enjoy a more authentic experience while watching shows like Alice, Destino Deporte, and Hijos del Carnaval.

With its release and continual updates of the Kindle, Amazon is an optimal platform for Spanish language content – this time in ebook form. For the first time, readers can easily access Spanish language content at a fraction of the cost of printed versions, and recent growth in the Spanish ebook market has inspired the company to invest further in this niche.

What This Means for Content Marketing

The message is clear: it’s time to hop on the bandwagon. The Hispanic market is expected to represent $1.5 trillion in purchasing power by the end of next year. There’s absolutely a niche to be filled. A lack of quality Hispanic-specific content online coupled with lack of competition in Spanish language SEO means there has never been a better time to establish your brand in the market.

Our bloggers have been talking about tapping into the potential of this market for years now. But, it’s not just about slapping a Spanish label on your ad and calling it good to go. As with all targeted marketing efforts, it’s important to consider nuance.

For instance, rather than simply translating your English content into Spanish, offer original, customized content written in Spanish that is specific to your target market. The example of McDonald’s “Me Encanta” site is a good one, with links to Latin American pop music, Latino/a-specific scholarships and contests, and content that promotes the company’s menu items. There’s even a subsection on orgullo latino – or, in English, “Latino pride.”

orgullo

A customized domain for your Hispanic audience is also a great idea. Rather than using a subdomain, which could send the impression that your Spanish site is less important, a custom domain provides culturally relevant, specific content for a specific audience.

Is your brand offering Spanish content? Why or why not?

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Tree

Tree is a somewhat nomadic graduate student pursuing an MFA in Poetry and Literary Translation from Drew University. A self-identified “diplobrat,” she spent over 16 years living as an expat in countries like Guatemala, Bolivia, and Tanzania. Tree graduated from Smith College in 2012 with a degree in Spanish Language and Literature, a minor in Studio Art, and a concentration in Landscape Studies. In between writing poetry for school and content for CEM, she dabbles in goat herding and freelancing. Other interests include reading, watercolor painting, gardening, and traveling.

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