Spanish-language network claims big victory

Univision routinely beats the English-language nets in the 18-34 demographic, but it overstated its case with a press release this week claiming victory over ABC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC with its Democratic forum on Sunday.

Spanish-language Univision claimed 4.6 million viewers, a figure that would have blown away Fox News’ Republican debate in New Hampshire, which drew 3.1 million last week.

Such a powerhouse per would have lent credence to anecdotal assertions about Hispanic engagement in politics and Univision’s potential power as a kingmaker in the coming 2008 campaign.

The Associated Press, Adweek and MediaWeek went with the story, and the Drudge Report carried a link to the release on Tuesday.

The trouble is that Univision’s assertion was only half true. The 4.6 million was derived from an analysis of viewers who had tuned in for at least six minutes of the 90-minute forum.

The total average viewers for the debate came in at just 2.1 million, according to Nielsen Media Research, making it the sixth highest-rated debate behind two held by FNC, two by CNN and one by ABC.

Univision’s claim obscured the fact that the forum did bring in the biggest aud thus far in the 25-54 demo coveted by news advertisers, beating CNN’s YouTube debate in July. Univision drew 1.3 million viewers in the demo compared with CNN’s aud of just over a million in July.

The discrepancy between the total viewer and demo numbers shows how much younger Univision is than any of the broadcast nets or cable newsies. The average viewer age for Univision’s forum was 36 compared with 61 for debates carried on English-language webs.

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