December 16, 2016
By Stephen Brooks
Augmented reality. Skinny bundles. Virtual reality. Original series and films debuting on over the top (OTT) platforms. In 4k. Feature films shot on iPhones. YouTube stars.
If you pause to survey the filmmaking and distribution landscape and suddenly wonder when everything changed, you’re not alone. And barring an apocalypse, technology promises more change—and at a more rapid pace, to boot.
The changes are not only technological, but they’re also demographic. The Millennial cohort is more mobile, technologically savvy and culturally diverse than its predecessors (just wait: the digital-native Generation Z right behind it is even more so across the board). Multicultural Millennials—and Hispanic Millennial viewers in particular—are challenging many of our long-held assumptions about how to tell a visual story (and the proof is in the ratings and ticket sales).
Hispanic Millennials are the single largest cohort in two of our most important media centers (Los Angeles and Miami). Filmmakers and brands alike covet this ascendant demographic, to varying degrees of success and frustration. So how can they be reached?
Hispanic Millennial viewers consume the plurality of their video entertainment through smartphones—and as smartphone penetration and 4G carriage continues to expand, this proportion will only increase.
Narrative formats that adapt to the reality that the mobile screen is the first screen will capture the Hispanic Millennial viewer’s interest. Shorter form content—film shorts, mini-episodes, vignettes, music videos—meet the mobility and attention span demands of a generation untethered from programmed and structured television.
Interestingly, this attention span extends even to mobile advertising, where, according to a 2015 study by the Hispanic Millennial Project, this cohort is more receptive to brand messages on mobile platforms than are other cohorts, a critical factor as distributors try to augment advertising revenue from thinning broadcast viewership.
It’s the What, Not the How or Where
This is not to suggest mobile is the only platform for Hispanic Millennials—far from it. If the content they are looking for is not available on one platform (e.g., television or YouTube), Hispanic Millennials will seek out the niche services that can deliver it (subscription services, streaming/over-the-top apps).
Optimism and Identity
Hispanic Millennial viewers are inherently optimistic about the future and their ability to impact it positively, even as they increasingly identify culturally with their ancestral country or region. This unique paradox—one foot seeking connection with the past while the other moves confidently toward the future—creates the backdrop for exploring complex narratives about self-identity, belonging and separateness.
The filmmaker or creative agency who is able to explore these narratives and convey them in a short format stands a good chance to recapture the viewership lost from more traditional media outlets.
Incidentally, this paradox is playing out around the world, as technology brings us closer together, economic mobility is increasingly widespread and entertainment becomes more globally produced and consumed. So chances are, the narrative that captivates the imagination of the Hispanic Millennial in the U.S. will find captivated audiences elsewhere.