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Demo delight for Univision

Telenovelas bring Independence Day win for net

Spanish-language network Univision was tops among adults 18-34 last week — beating all six broadcast webs in that demo for the first time.

Univision said it averaged 1.18 million viewers for the week ended July 3. Its closest competitor was Fox, which averaged 1.06 million young viewers.

Univision victory comes with a caveat: The ratings frame included most of the Independence Day holiday weekend — traditionally the least-watched week of the year (with homes using television, or “HUT,” levels down 6%). And while the English-language nets broadcast mostly repeats, Univision’s schedule consists of firstrun telenovelas.

“It’s a little bit of an anomaly,” said Fox senior VP of research Melva Benoit. “It was the lowest week for a lot of networks in over two years. But on the flip side, Univision has had some momentum…. This was a big week for them, you can’t knock it.”

Univision’s win in the demo is also indicative of the nationwide shift in population, Benoit noted.

Comparing English- and Spanish-language nets is an apples-and-oranges proposition at this point, with ratings coming from two different samples. But as Nielsen increases its national sample over the coming years, it will become easier to determine whether the Spanish nets are having an impact on their English brethren.

“It’s something we’re mindful of,” Benoit said.

As for this past week, Univision won thanks to its powerful reach in the Spanish-speaking TV universe (9.5 rating/33 share).

The No. 1 ranked show in adults 18-34 was ABC reality show “Dancing With the Stars,” which drew 2.6 million viewers, followed by Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” with 2.5 million.

Filling out the next seven spots were episodes of the telenovelas “Apuesta por un Amor” and “La Madrasta,” which air at 8 and 9 p.m. respectively, on Univision. Spanish-language novelas are designed as a nightly strip generally lasting four to six months. Both “Apuesta” and “Madrasta” are about midway through their runs.

Univision noted further that its adults 18-34 aud is up 26% over the same period a year earlier and that the Big 4 combined slid 16%.

Among individual nets, ABC’s 18-34 audience was up 17% on the same week in 2004. NBC posted the biggest decline — and lost on two fronts. The Peacock’s 18-34 aud was down 32% versus a year ago while sibling Spanish-language net Telemundo fell by 18%.

Benoit blamed the broadcast nets’ low 18-34 numbers on several factors, including the holiday, cable programming and the fact that some of this summer’s big hits skew slightly older.

Univision is coming off its best season ever vs. the English language nets, having scored the No. 1 spot in adults 18-34 on 19 nights last season; it did not do so even once in 2003-2004 (Daily Variety, May 16).

The Spanish net also beat at least one of the Big 4 on 137 nights last season vs. 54 the year before.

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