Did you see the headline earlier this week that YouTube had struck a deal with Spanish Television Network, Univision? If you're a typical American, you might have passed right over it. Maybe you noted it mentally, but figured it wasn't terribly important to you since you don't speak Spanish.
The deal actually seems pretty important to me for two big reasons:
1. For what it means for Spanish speakers
Let's start with some basic facts about Univision that, because they aren't NBC, you might not know. First, they have the largest Spanish-speaking audience of any television network in the U.S.
Again, it's easy for non-Hispanics to underestimate how sizable that market is. Spanish is the second most-common language spoken in this county, behind only English. The US Census Bureau says that by 2050, there will be 102.6 Million Hispanics in the United States, and that this number will make up 24% of the entire country's population.
One in ten American residents speak Spanish as their primary language. In fact, according to this Wikipedia article, there are more Spanish speakers in the U.S. than in Spain.
Worldwide, there are more Spanish speakers than English speakers—Spanish is the second most common language after Mandarin.
All that data points to a single conclusion: There is a much higher audience for the Univision content than you probably thought there was.
Univision's deal with YouTube puts full-length shows from the network in front of potential millions of new viewers as well as giving existing viewers more control over where and when they watch their favorite programs.
2. For what it means for the future of online television
Have you seen the YouTube channels for the major U.S. television networks? They're largely filled with clips, snippets, and really old content. The Fox channel actually has text on there that says, "For full-length episodes visit http://Fox.com/fod”. Everything else there appears to be a quick segment (a minute or so, often less).
The ABC channel is the same, driving visitors who are seeking full-length videos to ABC.com. And they have some snippets of Dancing With The Stars and other shows to serve as teasers. Ditto for the other two major networks (NBC and CBS).
Now, some of these networks have full-episodes on their own websites. Some have them on sites like Fancast or Hulu (a couple of them are partners in ownership of Hulu).
Univision's deal allows them to pretty much do whatever they want—it's non-exclusive. They could put content on Hulu. They could put it on Fancast. There's nothing binding in the language of the YouTube deal preventing that.
And that's the big shift in thinking. The major US networks are almost falling all over themselves to control the path through which you find their video content, keeping it behind the curtain whenever possible.
There are, of course, exceptions. For example, South Park and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia are two US shows that post every single episode online for free—the entire library. But they're also on cable networks. Cable networks have shown a lot more interest in stretching the boundaries of the status quo than the major networks have. The major networks—the big four—are still having a hard time letting go of the traditional business model and advertising revenue.
What do you think? Any Spanish-language video marketers want to weigh in on this deal? I'd love to have the perspective of someone who is in the target audience for this content. Univision could prove to be a serious case study, and if successful, might serve as motivation for the major US networks to remove a couple more layers between their content and their viewers.