Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


First Advisor

Laurie Thomas Lee

Date of this Version

Spring 4-24-2014

Document Type



A thesis presented to the faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Master of Arts

Major: Journalism and Mass Communications

Under the supervision of Professor Laurie Thomas Lee

Lincoln, Nebraska, May 2014


Copyright (c) 2014, Elizabeth L. Levine


The United States Hispanic population is growing at an exponential rate. There are now more than 100 television networks in the U.S. catering to Hispanic audiences–mostly in Spanish. Now, contrary to logic, more English-language programming for Hispanic-Americans is making its way to television. With immigration from Hispanic countries on the decline, most of the growth among the U.S. Hispanic population comes from Hispanics born in the U.S. Hispanic-Americans growing up in the U.S. are more likely to grow up speaking English and consuming media in English. The U.S. Hispanic audience is expected to reach one-third of the total U.S. population as early 2050, so it is clear that broadcasters cannot ignore this group. It appears the latest trend in attracting this audience, particularly the rapidly growing Hispanic millennial audience, is creating content that caters specifically to U.S. Hispanics, but in English.

But why is this trend emerging now? Networks may now be strategizing differently because of the changes in the makeup of the U.S. Hispanic audience–particularly among the millennial audience. After a thorough literature review, this thesis identified a set of factors explaining the trend: an increasing amount of Hispanic-Americans now growing up speaking English, a lack of non-stereotypical English-speaking Hispanic characters on mainstream television, an increase in U.S. Hispanic buying power and subsequent interest from advertisers, business partnerships and opportunities for networks and media moguls and ease of acquiring a cable network at a time when the Spanish-language television market is heavily saturated.

To explore and confirm these explanatory factors, personal interviews were conducted with program executives at Hispanic television networks that offer English-language programming. These interviews along with secondary research indicate that an increase in Hispanics born in the U.S., growing use of the English language among Hispanics and the lack of non-stereotypical English-speaking Hispanic characters on television are important driving forces behind this trend toward English-language programming catering to Hispanic-Americans.

Advisor: Laurie Thomas Lee