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Univision snags No. 1 TV rating in July

Univision expects to claim a coveted title this month: the most-watched network on television.

The Spanish-language broadcaster leads the July ratings race for adult viewers under 50, beating out the “Big Four” for the No. 1 spot in prime time. On Monday, Univision launched a bragging blitz with an open letter to ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC declaring “Número Uno is the new Number One” and ending with the sign-off line: “We are the new American reality.”

This would be the first time Univision has outright won a “sweeps” period, loosely defined as a month where Nielsen collects especially detailed viewing data for advertisers. Nielsen hasn’t released its final prime-time ratings for the month, but preliminary numbers show Univision edging out the other networks in the under-50 category between the hours of 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.. Univision executives say their internal numbers show a July win is inevitable.

“Obviously, it’s an historic milestone for Univision, and frankly for Spanish-language media in general,’’ said Cesar Conde, president of Univision, which is headquartered in Doral. “It was a pretty substantial win.”

Even with the July win, Univision remains a distant fifth for the ratings year that began in September, according to Nielsen. For the last 10 months, CBS captured the largest average audience, drawing about 10.7 million viewers at any one time, compared to 3.6 million for Univision. That still puts Univision ahead of the CW and its staple of teen favorites, including The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural. The CW draws an average audience of 1.6 million.

Univision’s No. 1 standing will most likely subside once the summer re-run season ends and popular series like the Big Bang Theory (CBS) and Modern Family (ABC) return. The summer sweeps is the least competitive, given most popular series go into re-runs and television audiences generally drop.

Univision has a natural advantage, since its popular telenovelas churn out new episodes daily and year-round. On Nielsen’s list of the ten most popular shows for Hispanic television watchers mid-July, every slot was filled with an airing of a Univision telenovela ( Corazón Indomable, Porque el Amor Manda or Amores Verdadores). With an audience at least as twice as large as its closest competitor in the Latin market, Telemundo, Univision dominates the Spanish-language audience while English-language broadcasters must fight each other for market share.

Still, Univision has never won a prime-time sweeps period before. Nielsen numbers show audience numbers for the English networks to be down slightly this summer, while Univision saw a 6 percent gain. For the under-50 demographic, a key barometer for advertisers, Univision drew an average audience of about 1.8 million people between July 8 and July 14, the most recent dates available from Nielsen.

Its closest competitor, NBC, drew an audience of 1.5 million, with Fox and CBS trailing close behind. (ABC drew 1.2 million.) In all, about 5 percent of all televisions on during prime time were tuned to Univision, compared to between 3 and 4 percent for each English-language network.

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