Latin WE & Electus on Serving Hispanic Audiences in the U.S.


MIAMI: Luis Balaguer, the CEO and founder of Latin World Entertainment (Latin WE), and Drew Buckley, the COO and head of digital at Electus, took part in a "Global Navigators" keynote at NATPE with World Screen’s Anna Carugati, in which they discussed the growing power and importance of the U.S. Hispanic market.

Latin WE, a Hispanic talent management and entertainment marketing firm set up by Balaguer and partner Sofía Vergara, has been working with the multimedia studio Electus on the YouTube channel NuevOn (Spanish for “New On”). The celebrity-oriented, pop culture channel for Hispanics features short-form programming (ranging from 2 to 3 minutes in length up to 10 or 12 minutes) produced almost entirely in Spanish.

“With NuevOn, we didn’t know what we were getting into,” said Buckley. “We first started out just to throw things against the wall to see what would stick. We ended up finding a fantastic audience in the youth and female Hispanic-focused demo that spans not only the U.S., but globally: Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Venezuela, Colombia. That’s something we’re really proud of, and we’re now looking at different ways to monetize that.”

“The audience really drove us to what they wanted,” said Balaguer on the evolution of NuevOn. “It’s a very scary way of producing content right now. In seconds, you know if your content is working or not. The analytics and what we’ve learned on the talent side has been amazing. Most of our talent brought the attention of many of the big brands, and it was sold out to advertisers before we even bought our first camera. The new celebrities of the Internet are outdoing our big stars now by tens of millions of views. It’s a brand-new world.”

The keys to growth for NuevOn, according to Buckley, rest in working with brands and finding branded-entertainment opportunities, identifying talent and identifying formats that can work for the short-form content but also beyond. The platform has provided an opportunity to be an incubator for talent, to test ideas and get instant feedback on it from the audience.

“We can tell you the exact second that we lose our audience,” said Balaguer. “We see a graph that in 30 seconds could be going to the floor and staying there, or when a show actually performs we see a direct line on the graph that the audience was engaged from the moment it started until the end.” 

The conversation also touched on working with brands and how it’s possible to seamlessly integrate branded entertainment with content. “The way we consume entertainment is evolving and changing,” said Balaguer. “Before, television networks were the glue that would bring the brand, the talent and the producers together. Today, in a world where we have another outlet with the audiences, the brands and the talent are learning how to work together directly.” He admitted that the biggest challenge is to make it feel organic and authentic, because audiences easily spot when it isn’t.

Balaguer also took the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions about Latino consumers. He addressed the previous notions that Latino consumers weren’t that tech-savvy, weren’t interested in going to the movies, weren’t consuming a lot of television. All of which has been proven wrong. “Pretty much, whenever you hear something about the Latino [audience] that doesn’t work, just go against it and it will work.”

Buckley went on to emphasize the importance for brands to reach out to the coveted Latino demographic and understand that they represent very sophisticated consumers. This led to a discussion on how there are still a multitude of untapped business opportunities in the U.S. within the Latino market. Notably, said Balaguer, for Latino storytellers. “The more Hollywood opens up to bring in more writers, more showrunners, the more they are going to see what a wealth of great ideas we have,” he added.

Carugati pointed out that many in the U.S. broadcast industry are grappling with how to best serve this new bicultural, bilingual generation of U.S. Hispanic viewers. “It’s not easy,” said Balaguer. “People talk about the U.S. Hispanic [market as] being a ‘melting pot.’ I completely disagree. If you’re going to compare us to a food, we’re more like a salad. The tomatoes are still tomatoes, the onions are still onions and the olives will remain olives, we just are all in a bowl and taste great together.”

He went on to say that nowadays, “if you are ignoring the Hispanic audience in the U.S., you’re destined to fail.”