With the U.S. Hispanic population growing, Spanish-language news media has fared better than its mainstream (English-language) counterparts, according to Pew Research Center. This continues to be the case despite the number of Hispanics born in the U.S., who are more likely to be bilingual or primarily English speakers.
Some of the biggest success stories in Spanish-language news media come from TV, where Univision now rivals ABC, CBS and NBC in terms of audience size. It even recently launched a 24-hour Spanish-language news station.
According to figures cited by Pew, total Spanish-language TV ad spending increased 10.7% in 2010 -- or double the growth rate for network TV in general -- due in part to the FIFA World Cup ad bonanza.
Overall, the 2010-2011 Spanish-language TV season is expected to bring in $1.5 billion in ad revenue, with Univision and its TeleFutura property accounting for $1.1 billion of this. The revenue growth reflects audience growth, with Univision's 18-49 prime-time audience growing 8% to 1.9 million in 2010-2011 -- compared to percentage declines in the same demo at ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox.
No surprise -- the Internet is the next big growth area for Spanish-language news media -- but it still faces some important barriers.
Hispanics are still less connected to the Internet than the general population. Roughly 65% of Hispanic adults went online in 2010, compared to 77% for white adults -- while just 45% of Hispanic households had broadband access last year, compared to 65% of white households.
By the same token, these numbers are increasing steadily from year to year, and all the major Spanish-language news sites are seeing increased traffic as a result. Internet usage among Spanish-language-dominant Hispanics increased from 36% in 2009 to 47% in 2010.
Univision Communications Web sites attracted 3.34 million unique visitors in May 2011, followed by Yahoo en Espanol with 1.92 million, Terra-Telefonica with 1.9 million, and MSN Latino, with 1.7 million.
In radio, the number of Spanish-language radio stations increased 8% from 1,224 in fall 2008 to 1,323 in fall 2009 -- the most recent count available -- although most of these are not news-talk format. Once again, Univision continues to be the major player, with 70 stations around the country attracting roughly 21.7 million listeners in any given week.
Although Spanish-language radio revenues have suffered from a tough advertising environment, their audience growth is a positive long-term trend. Pew also noted that Spanish-language broadcasters have mostly agreed to begin encoding their audio signals for measurement by Arbitron's Portable People Meter, a passive electronic measurement device. While Univision is still holding out on actually subscribing to PPM outside of Houston, the simple fact that they now have comparable data could make them more competitive with mainstream radio in the long run.
Spanish-language magazines apparently fared better than English titles in terms of advertising revenue, according to Kantar Media, which has total ad spending here increasing 5.5% -- compared to 2.9% for the consumer magazine industry overall. However, the picture here is less rosy, as Spanish-language print media suffers from the same trends affecting mainstream print.
Another research outfit, Media Economics Group, estimated ad revenues grew 3.9% to $178.8 million -- but also noted that total ad pages dropped 4.7% in 2010, a sign that Spanish-language media is not immune to broader secular trends. Still, it's worth noting that the largest U.S. Spanish-language magazine, People en Espanol, saw total ad pages increase 3.2% from 702 in 2009 to 724 in 2010.
The story was also less positive in Spanish-language newspapers. The total number of Spanish-language newspapers published in the U.S. dipped slightly, from 835 in 2009 to 832 in 2010. On the other hand, total audited daily circulation (among the minority of titles which pay for third-party auditing) grew 1.9% to 1.02 million -- compared to another decrease in overall circulation for the newspaper marketplace at large, according to separate figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, including a 5% decline in English-language dailies.
But it wasn't all good news on the circulation front: total circulation at Spanish-language weeklies slipped 2.5% to 1.08 million. Meanwhile, ad revenue for Spanish-language newspapers overall crept up 2% in 2010, according to Kantar Media -- although another organization, Latino Print Network, calculated a 5.6% drop. Either figure is favorable next to a total print advertising decline of 8.2% for the industry at large, per the Newspaper Association of America.