The online hangout MySpace is expanding its offerings for U.S. Hispanics, adding eight bilingual communities focused on Latino bands and celebrities, soccer and other interests.
The year-old MySpace Latino has largely been a translation of MySpace’s English site into Spanish. Beginning Tuesday, MySpace is unveiling content specific to one of the fastest growing groups online.
“It’s been something they’ve been asking for,” said Victor Kong, the Miami-based managing director for MySpace Latino. “We’re not just duplicating everything and having the same exact programs in Spanish.”
MySpace officials say that switching between English and Spanish should generally be seamless. The Los Angeles-based company, a unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., will continue to have separate sites in Spanish or Portuguese aimed at Latinos abroad: MySpace Mexico, MySpace Brazil and a continentwide MySpace Latin America.
According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, about three-quarters of English-speaking U.S. Hispanics are online, an increase from about half in 2002. But a joint study by that group and the Pew Hispanic Center found usage lower among Spanish-dominant Hispanics — 32 percent as of late 2006.
Sites targeting other groups, including blacks, are in the works, but MySpace is expanding the Latino site now because of its growth. The company said it has added tens of thousands of Hispanic users each month with little promotion.
The new communities will offer a nationwide contest to identify four up and coming Latino acts, behind-the-scene interviews with bands and opportunities to attend live concerts offline — the first takes place Friday in Miami.
In a partnership with Spanish Broadcasting System Inc., MySpace is offering a channel featuring the latest on Latino celebrities and fashion.
Another community, En Tu Ciudad, offers recommendations on Latino events in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Miami. Features include information on art openings and reviews of movies with Hispanic actors.
A soccer community will cover both U.S. and Latin American soccer teams.