Spanish-language television network Univision had more viewers in the coveted 18-49 year-old demographic this July than any major English-language network. This represents an all-time first for Spanish-language networks.
Over the July Nielsen ratings period — which ends July 24th –, Univision accrued an average of 1.81 million viewers in the “youth” demo; besting CBS, NBC, and FOX — all just below 1.5 million –.
There are three discernible factors which catalyzed Univision achieving this unprecedented milestone:
1. Immigration – The continuing influx of Hispanic families into the U.S. has changed the proportions of the Nielsen demographics. The most recent U.S. Census cites that the Hispanic population increased 2.5 percent from 2010-2011, and that one-in-five residents speak Spanish in the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Because Nielsen ratings are only collected from U.S. families, Univision will gain ratings from any increase in U.S. Spanish-speaking population.
2. Summer Programming – Even though Summer is more competitive than it used to be among American networks, a traditional “television season” structure is still in place. Univision exploits the doldrums of the television “off-season” with their guarantee of first-run — new! –, prime-time programming 365 days a year.
This July was particularly fruitful. Univision picked up nearly five million viewers from the youth awards show “Premios Juventud”, which opened with a performance from superstars Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull. Univision also cleaned up in the ratings with their broadcast of the Gold Cup soccer tournament. This tournament features the national teams of U.S.A., Mexico, and Canada among others in the FIFA CONCACAF region — comprised of North and Central America –. Securing the Spanish-language rights to this tournament was particularly shrewd. This is because the English-language rights were secured by Fox Soccer, which is not included in most basic-cable packages. Thus, Univision’s built-in audience was augmented when droves of non-Spanish-speaking viewers flocked to Univision, to tune-in for free.
3. Internet Streaming Media – Cable companies have been losing customers by-the-bundle to streaming media sites like Netflix and Hulu. The overwhelming majority of the content offered by the aforementioned sites are English-language only titles. So as English speaking audiences drop cable and proliferate to internet sites that primarily cater to them, Hispanic cable/terrestrial television viewership — measured by “Nielsen families” — is increased percentage-wise from the continuity of Spanish speaking audiences.
Univision has its sights trained on overtaking the U.S. networks, finishing fourth in overall viewership in July — two spots ahead of “Big 4” network FOX –. They have the ultra-popular telenovela “Amores Verdaderos” and have even acquired the rights to make a Spanish-language remake of AMC’s “Breaking Bad”. And lest we forget the brazen, visceral delight that is “Sabado Gigante”. All signs seem to indicate that this upward trend for Univision is likely to continue into the foreseeable future.