Cable/Satellite Television as Technology-Enchancer

In a previous article, we provided a portrait of the technology elite in Latin America.  Using the 1998 Los Medios y Mercados de Latinoamérica study, we defined the technology elite in terms of technological assets, we found that they were affluent, well-educated, technologically savvy, intellectually curious and confident.  The definition of technology elite is based upon a scoring system for the weighted number of technology assets owned by households.  It was clear that ownership of one technology asset is usually positively correlated with ownership of technology assets.

These positive correlations can be result of at least a couple of factors.  In this first instance, the driving force is a willingness to explore new technological choices.  This obviously has to be coupled with the ability to acquire new technology.  Thus, we have the image of an college-educated professional who is evidently keen on trying out the latest fashionable technological innovations, no matter what they are.  

In the second instance, the quest for technology is in fact driven, or minimally being enhanced, by the seductive power of some of these technologies.  A most obvious example is cable/satellite television, which is still an evolving technology.  Many of the hundreds of cable/satellite television channels deliver advertisements for new technology as well as promoting a technology-oriented lifestyle through its editorial contents.  Among other advertisesments, cable/satellite television is particularly interested in selling more technology --- more channels, multiplexing, pay-per-view, digital radio, personal video recording, internet access, etc.

We will cite some survey data from the TGI Latina study.  This is a survey of 52,639 persons beween the ages of 12 to 64 years old in eight Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela) who were interviewed during the second half of 2001 and the first half of 2002.   Within this survey, 32.8% of the respondents that they have watched one or more cable/satellite stations in the last seven days.  It should be noted that this number includes out-of-home viewers (either at public places such as bars and hotels, as well as other people's homes), and is therefore a slightly larger number than the traditional home-based television audience measurements.

In the next chart, we show the viewing incidences by socio-economic level, education and occupation.  These results confirm the well-known characteristics of cable/satellite television viewers as being affluent, well-educated and powerful.

(source: TGI Latina)

In the next table, we show the viewing incidences among people whose households own various technologies.  These technologies serve different purposes.  Some are pure entertainment devices (e.g. video game systems, some of which can also serve as DVD players; CD players; VCRs; videocameras).  Some are housekeeping convenience tools (e.g. vacuum cleaners, dishwater, microwave oven).  Some are personal and business equipment (e.g. fax machines, computers, cellular phones).  Given that the overall viewing incidence is 32.8%, every single one of these groups have significantly higher viewing incidence.

(source: TGI Latina)

An immediate implication of these findings is that cable/satellite television is an effective medium for promoting and advertising other forms of technology.  Furthermore, it has some distinct advantages over other media types.  By comparison, broadcast television and radio appeal to the general population, which would be inefficient when the target is just a technology elite.  Magazines must be sub-divided into technology versus non-technology genres, and the technology sector is relatively small in size in Latin America.  The Internet is intriguing but far too fragmented for a reasonable reach to be built up.

(posted by Roland Soong on 03/20/2003)

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