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Univision gains on NBC, signaling shifts in population trends

April 5, 2011 |  5:16 pm

Univision last week attracted more prime-time viewers than NBC, the second time in four weeks that the Spanish-language network edged out one of the Big Four.

Univision still trails NBC by a wide margin on a regular basis. But the New York-based network has been slowly narrowing the gap against its English-language compadres as it continues to add viewers while the mainstream TV networks, including NBC, lose them.

EVALUNAshowpic Univision sees more growth ahead: Results of the 2010 census underscored that Latinos make up the fastest-growing segment of the population. 

Tuesday, Univision said that on about 50% of nights during the first quarter of 2011, it attracted more viewers ages 18 to 49 than NBC. That demographic is a crucial target audience for advertisers.

The first quarter is a particularly weak period for NBC because that's when it loses its fall juggernaut, "Sunday Night Football," a bulwark for the network's ratings.

Univision trails NBC by an average of 579,000 viewers a night in the adult demographic during the period measured, Dec. 27 to April 3. During the comparable period a year earlier, NBC had an advantage of 1.9 million viewers. But NBC's ratings last year were fueled by its coverage of the Olympic Games in Vancouver in February 2010.

And in the recently ended quarter, the peacock network lacked blockbuster events, making its ratings challenges more apparent.

Separately on Tuesday, NBC corporate parent NBCUniversal said it was launching a sales initiative called "Hispanics at NBCU." The media giant owns the Telemundo Spanish-language network, which competes with Univision. It said its new campaign was aimed at connecting marketers with Latinos, particularly Latinas, whom NBCUniversal called "a powerful audience that is extraordinarily underserved."

Univision, obviously, doesn't think so. 

-- Meg James

Photo: Actors Guy Ecker, Blanca Soto and Julián Gil star in the popular Univision prime-time telenovela "Eva Luna." Credit:  Univision Communications Inc.

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