Over the past two years, we’ve started to hear more about the Asian-American market. This publication, in fact, dedicated a good portion of its Aug. 14 issue to Asian programming and the distribution outlets for Asian channels (see "Asian Programming: Switched Digital Video Comes to the Rescue, page 20). But marketers, advertisers and MSOs remain hesitant to embrace this audience in a significant way. Why? Asian-Americans represent one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the U.S., and have higher education levels and average household incomes than other Americans. In addition, Asian-American buying power is expected to reach an impressive $526 billion by 2008. And have you noticed the prominence of Asian-Americans in American youth culture? Asian-American youth is influencing key trends in mainstream pop culture, including technology/gadgetry, anime/manga, video gaming, food/culinary arts and hip-hop/alternative music, says a recent study by New American Dimensions and interTrend Communications. In addition to being trendsetters, Asian-Americans of all ages have incorporated computers and the Internet into their lives—more so than any other race or ethnic group. They are technology-focused, and thus very receptive to broadband, HDTV, VOD and mobile services. So again, why is the Asian-American audience not getting cable’s attention? For marketers and advertisers, much of the hesitation comes from the belief that marketing to Asians means having to create separate campaigns to reach Chinese-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Korean-Americans and so on. But this is not so. Asian-Americans have more in common than not. First, 85% of all Asian-Americans speak English. They also share cross-cultural experiences living in America. For MSOs, there might have been a concern about similar market aggregation issues. It seems, though, that MSOs simply are unwilling to turn over the bandwidth for what looks like a fractured audience. However, advancements like the deployment of VOD technology and switched digital video are making it easier to target this market and address limited capacity issues. DBS has long known the value of reaching out to the Asian-American audience, but DBS is vulnerable—it has offered ethnic services only on a premium-pay basis. The best way to reach an underserved audience, like Asian-Americans, is via a basic or digital tier channel—not through a separate fee. At last, cable could lead the way to making Asian services widely available. Once the distribution exists, marketers and advertisers will quickly discover that reaching this audience is not as challenging as they once thought. And then, finally, they will embrace the huge opportunities within the Asian-American market. Bill Georges is SVP of affiliate and advertising sales at AZN Television.

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