MBPT Spotlight: Third Time Not a Charm for Univision as Fox Wins July Sweeps

For the first time in three years, Univision did not win the broadcast network July sweeps in the 18-49 demo, this year finishing fourth behind ABC, NBC and winner Fox.

Not that the July sweeps mean a whole lot to marketers any more.  In fact, even when the broadcasters used to go all out to win the other three sweeps months ratings battles during the regular season, the summer month was never much of a priority for the English-language networks.

But for Univision, it was a chance to make a splash and show marketers that the Hispanic network could play with the English-language networks and out-draw them in the most advertiser-desired demo. Univision always did have a slight built in advantage in that its primetime novelas from 8-11 p.m. were always first run in July, whereas much of the English-language networks’ July programming was in repeats.

The English-language networks have been adding more summer original programming, but what hurt Univision most this summer in its battle to win the July sweeps was its decline in the performance of its novelas. It still might not have won the ratings race against Fox which got a huge 18-49 demo number from its telecast of the Women’s World Cup Final, but its showing would have been much more competitive without the significant defection of novela viewers.

Fox won the July sweeps with a 1.15 18-49 demo rating, edging out NBC which averaged a 1.1. ABC averaged a 1.0, with Univision averaging a 0.92. CBS was next with a 0.87, followed by Telemundo with a 0.62 and The CW with a 0.28.

Last July, Univision won the month in the demo with a 1.15, edging out NBC which produced a 1.13. Fox was third with a 1.1, CBS was fourth with a 1.02, followed by ABC with a 0.96, Telemundo with a 0.59 and The CW with a 0.24. Both Telemundo and The CW showed tiny gains in their 18-49 demo ratings this July.

During the July 2013 sweeps, Univision beat second-place Fox in the 18-49 demo race by more than 20%.

Univision was also overtaken for the first time in three years in the 18-34 demo. Again between its novela viewing slippage and Fox’s Women’s World Cup Final, Univision finished second in the 18-34 demo with a 0.82 rating. Fox finished with a 0.89. However, take out the World Cup and Fox would have finished third with a 0.70.

ABC finished third in the 18-34 demo with a 0.73, followed by NBC with a 0.68, Telemundo with a 0.55, CBS with a 0.52 and The CW with a 0.22. Other than Fox, ABC was the only other network to increase its 18-34 demo rating in July.

If you take the Women’s World Cup final telecast out of the equation, NBC would have won the July sweeps among viewers 18-49 with its 1.1 rating, while Fox would have finished tied for third with Univision with a 0.92. However the 7.0 18-49 demo rating that Fox drew for the World Cup game pushed the network over the top.

One industry observer likened the World Cup Final in July to the annual Super Bowl telecast during the February sweeps. The World Cup drew 22.3 million, which is way less than the Super Bowl, but that one night’s audience dominated the month. “The sweeps are only four weeks, so one major telecast like that can significantly change the results.”

Excluding the World Cup Final which pulled in a one-night following, millennials continued to abandon the seven broadcast networks cumulatively, declining from 3.17 million last July to 2.87 million this July, a decrease of 9%. The five English-language networks saw their cumulative July 18-34 viewers decreased to 1.93 million viewers from 2.11 million last summer, also a decrease of 9%.

As for Univision’s decline, last July the network’s three novelas produced significantly better ratings than those airing this July. De Te Quiero averaged 2.5 million viewers and a 1.0 18-49 demo; Que Pobres Tan Rico averaged 3.2 million and a 1.3 in the demo; Mi Corazon Es Tuyo drew 3.4 million viewers and a 1.2 demo rating each night; and Que Vida Me Robo averaged 3.9 million viewers and a 1.5 demo rating.

This July Univision’s novelas drew solid viewership but nowhere near last summer. Its most-watched July novela was Que Te Perdone Dios, which averaged 2.8 million viewers and a 1.0 18-49 demo rating. Amores Con Trampa and Lo Imperdonable both averaged 2.2 million viewers and a 0.9 demo rating; and Yo No Creo En Los Hombres averaged 1.7 million viewers and a 0.7.

Univision did televise some COPA Oro soccer matches involving the Mexican team and those averaged 4.7 million viewers and a 2.2 demo rating. However that wasn’t enough to raise its 18-49 demo rating up enough to overtake Fox or the other networks ahead of it.

Telemundo’s El Señor De Los Cielos averaged a 1.1 demo rating and 2.3 million viewers this July, up from the 0.9 and 2 million viewers the novela averaged last summer.

Brad Adgate, senior VP, research says the decline of Univision’s novela viewing this July may not be a so much that the series were not as good but that Hispanic viewership, much like English-language TV viewership, is fragmenting.

“I think Univision’s decline speaks to the growing fragmentation of the Hispanic audience,” Adgate says. “For Hispanic viewers there are more online choices, plus the median age is much younger than English-language TV networks, so Hispanic TV viewers might even be more likely to begin experimenting with viewership on other platforms.”

The most watched English-language network entertainment show in July among the 18-49 demo was NBC’s America’s Got Talent with a 2.3 rating. Next was ABC’s The Bachelorette with a 2.1, followed by a bunch of shows with a 1.9 demo rating, including ABC’s surprising new summer hit Celebrity Family Feud, the Wednesday and Thursday editions of CBS reality series Big Brother, and NBC competition series American Ninja Warrior. CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory in repeats averaged a 1.4 in the demo leading into another sitcom Mom, which averaged a 1.2. Fox’s Masterchef also averaged a 1.2. CBS freshman summer drama Zoo averaged a 1.1 demo rating in July, while summer drama Under the Dome averaged a 1.0.

Among viewers, America’s Got Talent also led the July sweeps in viewers, averaging 10.2 million, Next was Celebrity Family Feud with 8.3 million viewers. Others among the top 10 most-watched shows in July included CBS news magazine 60 Minutes (7.6 million); CBS drama NCIS (7.5 million); The Big Bang Theory (7.1 million); Zoo (7 million); American Ninja Warrior (6.3 million); NBC’s Last Comic Standing (6 million); and Big Brother, Wednesday and Thursday (5.9 million each).

Broadcast network shows taking significant dips in audience compared to last July were CBS dramas Under the Dome and Extant. Last July Under the Dome averaged 7.2 million viewers and a 1.7 demo rating, while this summer it fell to 4.9 million and a 1.0 in the demo. Extant, which premiered last summer, averaged 7.5 million viewers and a 1.3 demo rating last July, compared to 4.6 million viewers and a 0.7 demo rating this July.

Despite all the new summer series or ones brought back from summer to summer, few have cracked the 5 million mark in viewers or the 1.0 18-49 demo rating either in July or for the entire summer-to-date.

As for the median age of July sweeps programming viewers, the five English-language broadcast networks averaged a 54, same as last summer, while the two Hispanic broadcast networks averaged 39, up one year from last July. That was due to Telemundo’s median age for July rising from 37 to 39.

Still if marketers want to reach a younger audience, the Hispanic networks are a solid alternative to the English-language networks.