While English-language broadcast television is, for the most part , going through its typically bland summer viewership pattern, Spanish-language broadcast is on fire.
In summer-to-date numbers, Univision ranks as the No. 1 broadcast network among adults 18-34 and No. 3 among adults 18-49 on all of television.
In the week ending August 25, Univision out-delivered two or more of the English-language broadcast networks on six nights of the week among both adults 18-34 and 18-49. For that week, Univision had 11 of the top 25 programs in both adults 18-34 and adults 18-49.
Telemundo is also having a solid summer, recording the best ratings numbers for July and August in the network's history.
While the Spanish-language networks do have the advantage of televising all first-run novelas throughout the summer, there also seems to be more loyalty shown by its viewers. Univision and Telemundo do not post the level of total viewers that the broadcast networks get during the summer, but they lose a lot less viewers, and the viewer gap closes significantly.
And all this while Univision has been able to overtake all of the broadcast networks in key demos.
Univision won the July sweeps ratings in the 18-34, 18-49 and 12-34 demo categories. It also beat Fox in total viewers per night, averaging 3.6 million to place fourth among all broadcast networks.
It didn't just win the July sweeps, it shellacked the English-language networks, beating second-place Fox in the 18-49 demo by 21%, in the 18-34 demo by 20% and in the 12-34 demo by 30%.
"Univision is now very competitive with the English-language broadcast networks, particularly during the summer, but also during the regular season on many nights in both the 18-34 and 18-49 demos," says Brad Adgate, senior VP, research at Horizon Media. "The gap right now between Univision and the English-language broadcast networks is closing faster than the gap between cable and broadcast in the 18-49 demo."
For Univision, the summer conquest is a pleasant reminder of when the net beat NBC in the 18-49 demo in the February sweeps.
Among adults 18-34, Univision's novella Amores Verdaderos (True Love), which completed its season in late July, outperformed CBS summer hits Under the Dome and Big Brother, ABC's entire primetime lineup, most of NBCs and a handful of Fox summer shows.
On Saturday night in July, Sabado Gigante (Big Saturday) was broadcast television's third-most watched show among adults 18-34 and 18-49, topping Fox in each demo, while averaging 2 million viewers.
In July, Telemundo averaged 1.5 million viewers per night and its 18-49 rating was up 13% over the same month last year. In August, the network has averaged 1.3 million viewers per night and its 18-49 rating is up 10% over last August.
Youth Is Served
Not only are the Spanish-language networks growing their summer audiences, but they are being watched by younger viewers. Univision has a summer median age of 37 and Telemundo has a median age of 38. That compares to 46 for The CW and Fox, 52 for ABC, 53 for NBC and 59 for CBS.
The Hispanic networks with their first-run summer novellas are also reaching a key audience for marketers—millennial Hispanic women.
A recent Nielsen study titled "The Latina Power Shift" offers up some important data for marketers about Hispanic women 18-45. Namely: 86% of Latin women say they are the primary decision makers in their households, which make them pivotal to the Hispanic market's $1.2 trillion in annual buyer power.
Latinas say they are the primary or joint decision makers in every purchasing category, from groceries, insurance and financial services, to electronics and family care.
As of 2013, 21% of all Latin women over age 18 are earning more than $75,000 per year.
The Nielsen study found that Latin women buy more food items in categories such as dry grains and beans, eggs, oils, flour, dry mixes, spices, prepared and unprepared meat and seafood, cereal and yogurt than non-Hispanic white females. They also buy more beverages, baby and household products, beauty and skin care products and fragrances than non-Hispanic females.
Latinas are also adapting to and adopting all types of technology at a higher pace than U.S. females in overall numbers.
As far as their TV viewing habits, Latinas 18-plus on average watch a little more than 1 ½ hours per day of Spanish-language broadcast television, compared to 43 minutes of English-language broadcast.
But the time element isn't the only reason to stress the importance of reaching Latinas via Spanish-language television. A Nielsen brand effect study done in January found that average brand recall among Hispanic women is twice as high while watching programming on Spanish-language TV compared to English-language TV.
"This is not necessarily a reflection of language alone, but the amount of relevant content and advertising messages designed to appeal to Latinas is greater on Spanish-language TV than on English-language TV," the study states.
Top of the Mark
This summer, Univision's most watched novela was Amores Verdaderos, which averaged 4.7 million viewers and a 1.9 18-49 demo rating. It was replaced after its completed run in July by La Tempestad (The Storm), which has averaged 3.6 million and a 1.4 demo rating. La Tempestad, stars William Levy, who was a contestant on a recent ABC Dancing With the Stars season, and Miss Universe 2010, Ximena Navarette.
Univision's most watched novela right now is Porque El Amor Manda (Because Love Rules), which airs at 8 p.m. and is averaging 3.8 million viewers and a 1.6 demo rating. It's 10 p.m. novela, Qué Bonito Amor (What A Beautiful Love) is averaging 3.5 million and a 1.3 18-49 demo rating.
There appears to be a consistent audience flow from one novela to the next each night.
Univision's 7 p.m. novella, Corazon Indomable (Wild at Heart), which airs outside of broadcast weeknight primetime, is also doing well this summer, averaging about 3.4 million viewers.
Two of Telemundo's most-watched novelas—Señor De Los Cielos (The Lord of the Skies) and La Patrona (The Boss)—both recently completed their runs. Señor De Los Cielos averaged 2.4 million viewers per night and a 1.2 18-49 rating at 10 p.m. this summer, while La Patrona at 9 p.m. averaged 2 million viewers and a 0.9 18-49 rating.
Telemundo's two most watched current primetime novelas are Marido en Alquiler (Husband for Hire) at 9 p.m. and Santa Diabla (Holy Devil) at 10 p.m., both averaging 1.3 million viewers and a 0.6 18-49 rating this summer. Santa Diabla began its run in early August, while Marido en Alquiler joined the schedule in mid-July. Its other primetime novella, Dama Y Obrero (Lady and Worker) at 8 p.m. is averaging 1.1 million viewers and a 0.4 18-49 rating.
Another point for marketers to know—Hispanic viewing of English-language programming this summer is not very high.
The most-watched show by Hispanics is NBC's America's Got Talent, which for the week ending August 18, according to Nielsen, averaged 872,000 Hispanic viewers for the Wednesday night show and 633,000 viewers for the Tuesday night show.
CBS' Under the Dome drew 629,000 Hispanic viewers (it averages over 11 million total viewers), while Fox's MasterChef was next with 511,000. The only other scripted series in the Top 10 was ABC's Rookie Blue, drawing 348,000 Hispanic viewers.
Horizon Media's Adgate says the English-language networks need to program summer with more original programming or risk continuing to lose audience to both the Spanish-language networks—especially the growing behemoth Univision—and to cable.
"Every summer, Univision seems to make bigger waves," he says.