For the first time a Spanish-language network has beaten English stations in the most sought after demographic in the United States. The first week of September, Univisión, the nation's largest Spanish-language media company, was the most popular television network among the highly coveted demographic of television viewers aged 18 to 49.
The 18 to 49 demographic is seen as the audience with the most buying power. They're so important to advertisers that ABC, NBC and Fox pay more attention to these ratings than they do for viewership as a whole.
Much of the media coverage brushed off Univision's feat by arguing that it's rerun season for Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC and the CW. The LA Times wrote, "Of course, it is rerun season... the last week of August and first week of September are always slow weeks for the networks." While this may be true, they failed to mention Latinos are the fastest growing segment of the population in the United States.
Nearly one in six residents, or 46.9 million people, are Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The same report notes the Latino population is much younger than the population as a whole, with a median age of 27.7 years in 2008, compared with 36.8 for the total U.S. population.
Univision's most popular shows include its telenovelas "Hasta que el Dinero Nos Separe" ("Until the Money Do Us Part") and "Soy Tu Dueña" ("I'm your owner"). The network also has "Sabado Gigante" ("Giant Saturday") a 3-hour Saturday evening variety show that has aired on the network since 1986. "Sabado Gigante" is one of only four remaining first-run primetime programs airing on Saturday nights, along with CBS' "48 Hours Mystery" and Fox's "COPS (TV series)" and "America's Most Wanted."
Broadcast networks seem to have brushed off Univision's win because it happened the first week of September, but it's only a matter of time until it takes the top spot again during the regular TV fall line up. Nielsen estimates another large increase (nearly 400,000 homes) for Latino TV homes in the coming television season.