English TV or Spanish Radio? U.S. Hispanics Are Utilizing Both Languages and Doing So with Ease

56% of Hispanics Prefer English Language Newspapers While 41% of Hispanics Prefer Spanish Language Magazines

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chicago, IL – They switch back and forth from their Spanish language soap opera to the English language evening news with ease. They may also pick up a Spanish fashion magazine while listening to the radio in English. Seems confusing to you? Well, mixing languages does not complicate the lives of United States Hispanics who are living with ease in both worlds – the one that is in English and the other that is in Spanish.

According to a recent Ipsos U.S. Hispanic Omnibus study, U.S. Hispanics take advantage of their bilingual abilities by using, accessing and ultimately enjoying media in both languages. Regardless of their language preference at home, whether it is English (43%) or Spanish (52%) U.S. Hispanics are turning to either language to meet their needs. “U.S. Hispanics are well equipped to live in the American society and function among U.S. institutions, while at the same time preserving their Hispanic heritage. Today, many U.S. Hispanics continue to speak primarily Spanish, among their peers, family and friends, to watch television in Spanish and to be involved in cultural /community events that are mostly conducted in Spanish. Yet, the ability to utilize either language when needed is an innate skill and an advantage that many U.S. Hispanics possess.” according to Cynthia Pelayo, Senior Research Manager.

English Language Television Dominates

When Hispanics turn on their televisions over half of them are tuning into an English language program. And when it comes to age, younger viewers are not the dominating presence in front of the English language small screen. Hispanics, aged 18-34, are actually less likely (54%) than older Hispanics, aged 55+, to prefer English language television (61%).

  • Slightly more than half of Hispanics aged 35-54 (52%) prefer English language television.
  • Forty-five (45%) percent of Hispanics with children in the household say that they prefer Spanish language television. In contrast, Hispanic households without children are highly likely to prefer English television (63%).
  • College educated Hispanics overwhelmingly prefer English language television (80%).

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted September 11, 2008 to October 6, 2008. For the survey, a nationally representative sample of 513 Hispanics was interviewed by telephone via Ipsos’ U.S. Hispanic Omnibus. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate within ± 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire Hispanic adult population in the U.S. been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/gender composition reflects that of the actual U.S. population according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Who Is Listening to Salsa?

The next time you over hear some Spanish beats, the person playing that music is most likely to be a Hispanic female (51%) as they are more likely than Hispanic males (38%) to tune into Spanish radio. Among radio preferences overall, Hispanics are practically split as forty-nine percent (49%) stated that they listen to English language radio while forty-five (45%) percent listen to Spanish language radio.

  • Hispanics aged 55+ are more likely to prefer radio in English than in Spanish (56% vs. 38%); among those 35-54, half (50%) prefer radio in English.
  • Younger Hispanics, aged 18-34, are practically split among preference as 46% prefer English and 47% prefer Spanish radio.
Online and in English

English is the leading language of preference for the Internet among all Hispanic age groups as over half of all Hispanics (55%) said that their language preference for the Internet is English. Yet, nearly forty-percent (39%) of Hispanics age 18-34 prefer Spanish language internet sites, showing that a good proportion of younger Hispanics are closely tied to Spanish while online.

  • Forty-two percent (42%) of Hispanic females prefer Spanish when surfing the web compared to just twenty nine percent (29%) of Hispanic men.
Read the News Today?

Hispanics are reading the news and they are looking for information in both languages – in English to find out the current affairs in their local U.S. city (53%) and in Spanish to follow up with the news in their home country (33%).

  • Over four in ten Hispanics (44%) read Spanish newspapers that cover news in their community in the United States. Among those with an annual household income under $50,000, 57% do so.

For more information on this news release, please contact:
Cynthia Pelayo
Senior Research Manager
Ipsos Omnibus Services
(312) 777-3953

About Ipsos
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Member companies assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media. They measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos member companies offer expertise in advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, and public affairs research, as well as forecasting, modeling, and consulting. Ipsos has a full line of custom, syndicated, omnibus, panel, and online research products and services, guided by industry experts and bolstered by advanced analytics and methodologies. The company was founded in 1975 and has been publicly traded since 1999.

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English TV or Spanish Radio? 
U.S. Hispanics Are Utilizing Both Languages and Doing So with Ease


Elen Alexov
Director, Marketing Services,
North America