Will Hispanics Watch Super Bowl 50 In Spanish Or English?

The Super Bowl will be televised in English and en español for the third straight year—with the hopes of growing a captive television audience and a substantial revenue base. For Super Bowl 50, a 30-second TV spot costs approximately $4 million and about 40% of all TV households in the U.S. are expected to be tuned into the biggest sports event in the country.

With so much at stake for advertisers, what if there were a better way to target the Hispanic TV audience watching the Super Bowl in English and Spanish—before the game ever took place? This could have multimillion dollar implications.

Last year, CMS/Magna Global conducted a groundbreaking study published in Journal of Cultural Marketing Strategy, which found that nativity (or generational level) was a good predictor of what U.S. Hispanics watched on network TV. That study found that first-generation Hispanics were more likely to watch Spanish-language television than second- and third-generation Hispanics.



These findings were subsequently validated using 2015 Nielsen TV viewership data.

Applying a nativity-based approach on TV viewership of Super Bowl 48 and Super Bowl 49, Nielsen data showed that the ratings for U.S.-born Hispanics (18-49) watching the English broadcast of both was more than twice as high as foreign-born Hispanics (18-49) in 2014, and 64% higher in 2015.

The gap closed somewhat last year only because more foreign-born Hispanics tuned into the English-language telecast.

Following the trend we observed in our study, significantly more foreign-born Hispanics tuned to the Spanish-language simulcast than U.S.-born, though most were still viewing the game in English. The Super Bowl is unique in this way.

Ratings for the big game are typically huge compared to most shows on television; ratings for Super Bowl commercials mirror that of the actual game; and consumers watch the game in a more social environment—at home with others or at someone else’s home. In fact, more TV households are likely to be more multigenerational, multicultural, and diverse compared to a typical TV viewing night.

This leads to possible duplication—the duplication of the Hispanic TV audience between the two language networks for the Super Bowl. In analyzing Super Bowl 49 Nielsen data, about 32% of foreign-born Hispanics watched the English language broadcast of the Super Bowl, while 6% watched the Super Bowl in Spanish.

Only 1% of U.S.-born Hispanics saw the Spanish-language telecast, and the duplication between the two telecasts was less than 1%. There was a bit more switching on the foreign-born side, with 8% duplication between the Spanish and English coverage.

There’s no doubt that a nativity-based approach for TV programming helps identify a more granular U.S. Hispanic target, thus making media buying and planning more effective and efficient for clients across virtually every category.

If culture matters in cultural marketing, nativity, definitely, matters. How soon will companies begin to apply a nativity-based media approach to programming—rather than using language as the long-accepted metric? We don’t know for sure, but we believe we are at a turning point, and there’s no turning back.

Predicting the Hispanic TV audience for Super Bowl 50 on the two television networks is easier than predicting the winner of the actual football game. A nativity-based view makes corporate America the real winner no matter who wins or loses on Super Bowl Sunday.

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