Earlier this week, Venezuelan José Lobatón and Dominican Juan Uribe were the heroes of the 2013 Major League Baseball playoffs as they smacked game-winning home runs in crucial games for the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers respectively. According to Fox News Latino, 27% of MLB players are of “Hispanic Background,” making baseball the most Hispanic sport from a player perspective.
With Latinos leading in technology adoption and making such an important impact on our national pastime, I thought it would be interesting to see how MLB is addressing Latino fans online. What I found was that MLB offers a robust digital platform for Hispanics and engages with them through a culturally relevant experience.
MLB Hispanic Digital Platform
MLB offers a robust Spanish language digital platform that is supported by a dedicated team of reporters and interactive marketing professionals. At the center of the platform sits its Spanish language digital platform, “Las Mayores” (The Majors). The platform is anchored by the LasMayores.com portal that includes up-to-date scores, statistics, videos and articles. In addition, the Spanish site is mobile optimized and provides fans an in-language opportunity to purchase tickets and sign up for newsletters.
Although the Spanish portal is not as deep as the English version, it was refreshing to see an exclusive, culturally relevant article on how Latin players have been critical in the recent success of the Dodgers. Digging further, I came across an interesting Spanish language video series, “En Sus Palabras” (In Their Own Words), that showcases exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of Latino players.
Beyond the portal, MLB clubs connect with Hispanics at the local level by providing Spanish language websites for each of the 30 teams. Fans of 21 of the 30 teams can listen to live Spanish language broadcasts online and those broadcasts can be overlayed over live video. In addition, each of the team sites is optimized for mobile, and many provide a Spanish e-newsletter.
MLB Hispanic Social Media
MLB engages with online Hispanics via a Las Mayores-branded Spanish language Facebook page and Twitter account. On Facebook, the league enjoys a following of nearly 50,00 likers with an impressive engagement rate of 30%, likely driven by the current playoffs. The league posts Spanish language content on Facebook including images, articles and culturally relevant content multiple times per day. Compared to other major sports in the United States, MLB’s Spanish language Facebook page ranks second behind the NBA’s Spanish Facebook page that has 466,000 followers.
MLB is the Spanish language leader on Twitter with 85,000 followers. The account is quite active with a strong flow of Spanish language tweets that cover baseball from all angles. In addition, the Las Mayores Twitter account supports 12 Spanish teams’ Twitter accounts through re-tweets and mentions. Interestingly, one of the most popular baseball players on Twitter is Dominican-born David Ortiz, with close to half a million followers.
How MLB Monetizes Online Hispanics
MLB’s Hispanic digital platform does a great job of engaging Hispanic baseball fans and building the league’s brand in addition to affinity for local clubs. But more importantly, the platform can be monetized. In addition to standard web banners and online sponsorships, MLB has several owned assets to monetize its Hispanic digital platform. Although the MLB.com e-commerce and ticketing sites are currently in English only, the Spanish portal does a good job of merchandising Latino-specific merchandise and games. Fans can also enjoy Spanish language broadcasts of games by subscribing to advanced features.
Marketers looking to hit a jonrónwith online Hispanics should look to béisbol.