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how bilingual millennials are changing Spanish-language TV - Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles Times

"Jane the Virgin's" Gina Rodriguez may star in a TV show based on a Venezuelan telenovela — and her character may devour Spanish soaps with her abuela — but when she was growing up in Chicago, the programs she plopped herself in front of the tube to catch were apple pie sitcoms such as "Growing Pains" and "Family Matters."

"I lived for those shows," says the 30-year-old actress, who won a Golden Globe for her leading role in the popular CW series. "I didn't grow up on telenovelas ."

That presents a challenge for Spanish-language networks in the United States. Rodriguez, of Puerto Rican descent, is part of a generation of bilingual millennials who are gravitating away from the torrid love stories and brassy variety shows that have been popular for decades on Spanish-language TV.

Univision calls this generation "billennials." And they increasingly consume their media in English.

It's a shift that Spanish-language networks have seen coming for some time. Billennials now outpace immigrants, long the core market of Spanish-language media, as the main source of growth for the Latino population.

Univision may be sitting pretty as the fifth-largest U.S. broadcaster with 2.8 million nightly viewers, and Telemundo has a nightly average of 1.4 million viewers, but the two networks recognize that if they want to maintain their hold on the coveted Latino market they need to actively court billennials.

"U.S. Hispanic millennials really have the best of both worlds right now," says Telemundo President Luis Silberwasser. "They have their choice of the best programming, regardless of language. What that requires for us in finding success is innovation — the kind of innovation that the Spanish-language marketplace has never seen before. It's been a market that for decades has programmed the same way that it always has been, in a very traditional way."

Bit by bit, however, time-honored telenovelas and...

Source: www.latimes.com

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