Latin America is an emerging market for eSports, particularly Brazil and Mexico, and Twitch believes the region will surpass North America’s audience soon. Despite high rates of violence against the LGBTQ+ community, Latin Americans are increasingly choosing series and shows centered around LGBTQ+ characters, especially those that provide proper character development. Much like other regions, Nostalgia is a big trend, with locals turning to old childhood favorites for comfort. People in Argentina and Brazil are searching for meaning and direction in Astrology, which also generated a lot of entertainment in the form of memes and jokes. Finally, K-Pop is a massive trend, with Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico placing among the top ten countries with the largest fanbase in the world, according to Twitter and Spotify. To provide an accurate collection of cultural trends in Latin America, we leveraged sources in Portuguese, Spanish, and English, hoping to avoid mixing Latin Americas with the Latinx population living in the United States most sources published in English were covering. Each trend was chosen based on market reports and local media insights, and backed by hard data when available.
Trend #1: eSports
- Latin America is rapidly emerging as a significant market for the gaming industry and eSports, expected to grow 10.3% YoY. It is currently one of the fastest-growing regional markets for online games. Even before the pandemic, online gaming was already thriving in the region, with Brazil, Mexico and Argentina leading the growth.
- In 2019, Brazil was among the countries with most eSports enthusiasts in the world, losing only to China and the United States. The country is the second-largest consumer market of Twitch, only behind the US. Twitch users in Brazil are usually males (84%) between 15-24 (55%). However, the country presents one peculiarity; although males account for most of the audience, women account for 49% of the gamers, spending, on average, 35% more time online. Overall, 20% of Brazilian internet users aged 16-4 report watching live gaming streaming at least once a month, and 13% watch eSports tournaments.
- Brazil is not the only country in Latin America embracing streaming and eSports. In Mexico, 20% of internet users aged 16-64 watch live streams of people paying games monthly, while 11% report watching eSports tournaments. Sixteen percent of Colombian internet users aged 16-64 watch live streams of people playing monthly, while 10% report watching eSports tournaments; a similar proportion is found in Argentina (16% and 11% respectively).
- Latin America’s eSports audience is expected to grow to more than 77 million in 2022. Twitch believes that the region will “overtake North America in terms of eSports enthusiasts” over the next two years. Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile are huge potential markets.
Trend #2: LGBTQ+ Content
- Latin America is not considered a safe region for the LGBTQ community. There is an inconsistency between people saying they support LGBTQ rights and the violence perpetrated against community members. Eighty-seven percent of Brazilians say they support equal rights for LGBTQ+ people, yet the country is the deadliest in the world for the transgender community. Meanwhile, Mexico and Colombia show above-average violence rates against young gay men and transgender women.
- Interestingly, LGBTQ+ content is a rising trend in Latin America, over-indexing the popularity of content centered around straight characters. On average, shows with LBGT+ characters are 48% more in-demand, and among the top 50 shows in the region in 2020, titles with LGBTQ+ characters were three times more in demand than those without representation.
- In Colombia, shows with LGBTQ+ characters are 75% more in demand than those without representation, closely followed by Brazil, with 73%. Argentina and Mexico show a smaller proportion, but LGBTQ+ content is still more in demand (33% and 19% more in demand, respectively).
- Shows that truly develop LGBTQ+ characters are more likely to find success than those that only use their presence in secondary roles, as studies have shown that viewers are “likely to resonate to these characters when they have a greater role in the storyline, are not only present as the only token character, and are more accurate representation of experiences of LGBTQIA+ people.”
- Programs in which the leading character is LGBTQ+ are reaching 93% more demand on average. Furthermore, when the LGBTQ+ community supports the show, there is an additional 14% increase. Supporting roles generate a 24% increase.
- For example, L Word: Generation Q was the 8th strongest Brazilian debut in Q4 2019. Brazilian audiences were also 10.6 times more interested in RuPaul’s Drag Race UK than the global average. The trend is not restricted to movies and series; Brazilian singer and drag queen, Pabllo Vittar, has over 1.5 billion views on YouTube.
- Although the trend is mostly being driven and embraced by streaming services, some traditional players are promoting change and acceptance as well. According to Ilan Stavans, a professor at Amherst College, “telenovelas have served as catalysts of social dialogue” in the Latam region. In the summer of 2019, Mexico produced “El Corazón Nunca Se Equivoca.” It was the first telenovela in the country’s history to feature a LGBTQ+ couple as protagonists.
- Brazil is a bit far ahead. The 2011 telenovela “Fina Estampa” featured “Crô,” a gay character that became quite popular with audiences at the time. However, in 2020, the network aired the telenovela again, and the public was outraged by how stereotyped this once-beloved character was, used mostly as comic relief. Activists recognize the company improved its depiction of LGBTQ+ characters in more recent productions.
- The sudden interest in these characters could be related to polarization sparking debates around the issue, younger consumers being less likely to present discriminatory behavior, and the fact that most people in Latam do not have real access to the LGBTQ community.
Trend #3: Nostalgia
- The nostalgia trend, which was already infiltrating Latin America in 2019, is being accelerated by the current turmoil. Psychology suggests that when it is hard to visualize the future and aspire for better, humans tend to look back to find shelter and comfort. Research also shows that people engage “in nostalgic reverie when they’re feeling low in an attempt to boost their mood and self-confidence.” The current social and political climate in Latin America, associated with the pandemic, are driving the trend, as people seek relief and reassurance.
- Not all nostalgia effects are simple, as it is affected by one’s perception of an event or period, based on an idealization that does not always reflect reality. For example, there is a growing glorification of the Empire and Dictatorship periods in Brazil. According to Brazilian scholars, those who idealize these periods tend to rewrite history to make them fit their own perception, and they often expect the media and others to echo their feelings. This effect is considered one of the main reasons behind the election of Jair Bolsonaro and Trump.
- Others turn to nostalgia, in the form of old shows and movies, to find a sense of security and safety. Krystine Batcho, a professor at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, explains that watching an old show is “analogous to a hug from your mom or dad or being cuddled.”
- A recent survey discovered that 67% of Brazilians are watching reruns of series and movies instead of new content. A similar trend can be observed in Mexico, where the most popular artists on Spotify now are artists from the 80s and 90s, such as Mi Banda El Mexicano, Luis Miguel, Joan Sebastion, Queen, José José, among others. Argentina shows a similar pattern, with old shows reaching good audience numbers.
- Local networks are quite aware of this trend. Globo is working on a new version of the telenovela “Pantanal,” a classic from the 90s. In March 2020, the network announced the addition of several classic Brazilian telenovelas to its streaming service, GlobopPlay. According to the company, between January and August, telenovela viewership on the streaming service increased by 140%, mostly driven by productions from the 80s and 90s.
- TV networks in Mexico adopted a similar strategy, adding not only telenovelas, but also international shows, such as Dawson’s Creek, Pokémon, and Naruto to its regular programming, which not only attract nostalgic viewers, but also helps mitigate the issues caused by productions being interrupted due to the pandemic.
Trend #4: The Korean Wave
- Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina are among the top 10 largest K-Pop markets in the world. BTS and Blackpink are the most popular groups, with South America accounting for almost 1 billion of BTS’s YouTube views.
- Brazil has the fifth-largest K-Pop fanbase in the world based on Spotify’s streaming numbers. Brazil and Mexico account for the third and fourth largest share of BTS views on YouTube, losing only to the United States and Indonesia, as of March 2020.
- One study discovered K-Pop fans are consuming music and K-drama. Over 40% of respondents stated that they watch over six K-drama episodes every week, 87% via streaming services. Romance and comedy are their favorite genre (85.4%). Social circles make a difference, with 83% of respondents saying they discuss K-Pop with friends.
- The Korean Wave in Latin America is attributed to social media, particularly Twitter, and the resources provided by the internet, such as automatic translation, which helps Latin American fans to be a part of a global community. The interactions with fans from all over the around facilitate the “transnational circulation of Korean cultural products in countries with a lack of cultural affinity or geographical proximity to Korea, such as Latin America.”
- BTS is the most popular group in Latin America. However, the other top five groups vary slightly according to the country:
Trend #5: Astrology
- Spirituality and Astrology are trends in Latin America, primarily in Argentina and Brasil. This trend can be traced back to Latin America’s current situation, as people tend to seek these solutions when facing stress and anxiety.
- According to Facebook, people from Latin America are following tarot readers online, and consulting their horoscopes daily. Social media conversations in Argentina regarding Mercurio, tarot, and signs saw a spike in 2019, primarily among Millennial women.
- Google Trends also show a significant increase in searches related to Astrology and Cosmology in Mexico. Meanwhile, in Brazil, Tarot reading is enjoying growing popularity. Furthermore, tarot readers’ social media profiles are big hits in the country, with some YouTube videos attracting over 1 million views.
- Astrology memes and jokes are increasingly popular, as well as astrology classes. “Astroloucamente,” a Brazilian Instagram profile dedicated to astrology and astrology memes, has almost 4 million followers. Additionally, some daytime shows added Astrology segments to its format.