There has been one huge takeaway from the TV networks’ “upfront” events this week, where the broadcast channels tout their shows and audiences for advertisers: Univision now routinely gets more viewers than NBC.
It’s not that Univision has suddenly piled on tens of millions of new viewers outside its Spanish language audience. (Its season-to-date audience was only up 1% through April.)
Rather, it’s that audiences for traditional TV offerings are collapsing.
When the tide goes out, the rocks get exposed, and Univision is one of the rocks.
It’s not a fluke. NBC isn’t simply having a bad couple of weeks. Rather, NBC’s audience has slowly vanishing since last fall:
Univision finished the February sweeps period with 1.5% of all adults, aged 18-49. NBC had a 1.2% share, ABC had 1.7%, Fox had 2% and CBS had 4.9%. Univision is within striking distance of three of the four big networks, in other words.
In March, Univision crowed that NBC had been behind it for eight consecutive weeks. The streak stretched to 13 weeks in April, Univision claimed.
Deadline, the Hollywood trade blog, called it a “crushing blow” back in late February:
That’s a crushing blow for NBC, which went from flying high in November with a sweep win & [CEO] Steve Burke breaking his usual silence last fall to brag to the New York Times about the network’s performance to its shows cratering and ratings plunging.
From the beginning of the February sweep on January 31 through February 19, NBC has averaged a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49. That’s below the 1.5 that Univision has been averaging so far over the 20 night of the sweep period. In fact, Univision has bested NBC every single night of the sweep so far among adults 18-49 and is poised to overtake NBC for its first fourth-place sweep finish in the demo.
Ratings go up and down, of course. NBC was tops back in November. Things could return to “normal.”
But the fact that a channel that serves only 12% of Americans (those who speak Spanish) can now routinely compete with the “big” broadcast networks suggests that the broadcast pool is getting smaller and smaller.
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