Hispanic Americans are now the biggest minority in the USA, at roughly 13% of the populace. The group is young and growing in both numbers and purchasing power, the latter having grown an amazing 165% since 1990. Moreover, the preservation of Hispanic language and culture seems to be of ever-growing importance to many American Latinos.
Lecturer in Comparative Management Lourdes Casanova recounts the remarkable history of Televisa, the dominant player in the Mexican market in TV content provision, magazine publishing and distribution, and a number of other interests. Televisa's recent experiences have been mirrored many times in major corporations throughout Latin America since the early 90s. Its 1992 decision to enter the US market meant that a radical restructuring with an eye to far greater efficiency was absolutely imperative. Televisa's founder, Emilio "El Tigre" Azcárraga Milmo, had been a paternal company president in classic Latin American style. The company was groaning under the weight of over 20,700 employees and more than 100 executives, and the bloated operation was also rapidly losing market share to domestic competitors.
Casanova offers an intriguing account of how a staggeringly inefficient organisation - one which also had ties with the national government that rendered objective news reporting practically impossible - managed to transform itself almost completely in a matter of three years. Improved efficiency and less biased programming were matched with revenue growth through leveraging its extensive library, and a big jump in advertising revenues. Today, the corporation's content remains its most valuable asset and a stalwart against its many rivals, particularly its highly popular "Telenovela" daytime soap operas, which have gained followings well beyond the region. But Televisa's higher-profile advantage is its access to the American Latino market via its Univision network.
Deciding that its most sensible strategy in penetrating the US market was through diversity, Univision offers channels tailored towards the young, sports fans, aficionados of Latin music, and Telenovela addicts. While Univision's current market dominance may remain strong, a major competitor, Telemundo, got a huge shot of strength when bought by the NBC network in 2001.
The author relates the many challenges that clearly lie ahead for Televisa in terms of growth potential, particularly through expansion in international markets, and how the company is attempting to address them. There are also concerns that Univision may become a victim of its own success to some degree, since it looks inevitable that it will eventually eclipse Televisa in size and scope.
Naturally, a number of other important strategic decisions have to be made quickly. Economic recovery from a series of setbacks has been uneven in Mexico, and advertising growth rates are sluggish. How can Televisa best invigorate these rates? What is the best way to continue its international expansion? How should it prepare for the massive challenge of digitalisation in the very near future?