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Latinos Still Leading Digital Entertainment Trends, But the Gap is Closing

First Posted: Oct 20, 2015 03:18 PM EDT
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Video rental stores in the digital age

For years, Latinos, and especially the millennial generation, have been trendsetters in technology adoption: Latinos tend to own and purchase smartphones at a higher rate than the general population, for example, and their entertainment choices have tended towards adopting digital options in greater numbers and at greater intensity than other demographics.

According to a recent Horowitz Research study on digital television trends -- which includes video on demand (VOD) services like Netflix and over-the-top (OTT) streaming television options like Sling TV -- Hispanic Internet users are still leading the digital entertainment market.

Latinos are still over-indexing as a digital entertainment audience above other ethnic demographics and above the general population as a whole. But the study also shows the gap between leading digital Latinos, and everyone else, is starting to close.

Latino Audiences Lead Digital Entertainment

In the survey, Latino Internet users showed higher interest in OTT video services than Whites, African Americans, Asian Americans, and the total population. A full 71 percent of Latinos said "watching TV and video content over the Internet is as easy as watching TV from a cable or satellite service."

(Photo : Horowitz Research, via Broadcasting & Cable)

Latinos also led the survey for weekly OTT video viewing -- a measure of actual adoption of the cutting-edge digital entertainment option -- at 49 percent compared to the overall total of 41 percent.

"We have been covering multicultural audiences for two decades and in some ways the more things change the more they stay the same," said Horowitz's Adriana Waterston to industry journal Broadcasting and Cable. "These multicultural audiences always over-index and are on the cutting edge of new technology, particularly when it comes to entertainment technologies."

The data fits the picture drawn by previous studies, such as Nielsen's "Digital Consumer" study from 2014. As we previously reported, Nielsen's data showed that Latinos watched significantly more online video than most, averaging an hour and a half more time streaming video per week than general audiences.

The Digital Gap Is Closing

But the Horowitz survey showed signs that other demographics are catching up to trendsetting Latinos. White Internet users answered Horowitz's OTT question at a much lower 59 percent rate, and the total response among respondents was also lower, at 63 percent. But Blacks and Asian Americans surveyed showed a positive response to the Internet streaming question at a nearly statistically identical rate, 70 percent and 69 percent, respectively. The same trend showed up in weekly OTT video usage as well.

And when it came to subscription VOD services, such as Netflix, Horowitz's data showed Blacks and Asian Americans indexing slightly higher than Latinos, at 50 percent and 48 percent, compared to Latinos' 47 percent, which still outpaced White audiences (39 percent) and the overall total (42 percent).

What does it mean? Latinos still lead the cutting-edge digital space, as they have for several years, but the rest of the U.S. consumer market is catching up.

"While these audiences are still ahead, the gaps are closing," said Waterston. But regarding the future of digital entertainment, she added that there was a good chance that these trends -- and the gap between minority trendsetters like Latinos and general audiences -- could reassert themselves.

"There isn't data on this yet, but it will be interesting to see how things like 4K, the Internet of Things, virtual reality and other technologies play out. If history does repeat itself as it has for the last two decades, then these groups will be on the leading edge of those technologies as well," she said to Broadcasting and Cable.

"Technology companies who are developing those products will have to learn what the multichannel industry already has learned, namely that these groups will be their first and best customers."

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