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Nielsen Shutters Standalone Hispanic Ratings Service

Nielsen Co. made it official Monday: It is closing up a standalone service that was dedicated to tracking TV ratings in Hispanic households.  

Nielsen said it will produce all national Hispanic ratings through its National People Meter panel, the same sample that is used to produce ratings for non-Hispanic networks.

Now that it will be providing ratings from a single national sample for all television networks regardless of language, Nielsen will retire its separate National Hispanic People Meter panel, which has measured Hispanic households since 1992. This completes a transition that started in late 2005, when a number of Spanish-language networks began to use ratings data from the NPM sample.

The change will put national Spanish-language television on a level playing field with English-language television, providing a common ratings number for all national networks, according to Nielsen. 

The growth of Hispanic television in recent years has resulted from the growing market power of the Hispanic population as a whole:

·        The number of U.S. Hispanic viewers has risen from 22.2 million, or 9% of the total U.S. population, in 1992-93 to 38.9 million, or 14% of the total population in 2005-06.

·        Ad spending on Spanish-language network and cable television has grown from about $1.8 billion in 2001 to more than $3.05 billion in 2006, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. 

·        In the 1992-1993 television season, there were two national Spanish-language broadcast networks, attracting a combined average primetime audience of 2.4 million Hispanic viewers. In the 2006-2007 television season, there were four national Spanish-language broadcast networks with a combined average primetime audience of 4.1 million Hispanic viewers.

Nielsen’s move to a single national sample comes as it expands its NPM sample. The sub-sample of Hispanic households within the NPM panel is both larger and more representative of the U.S. Hispanic population than the 1000-home NHPM panel that is being retired. As a consequence, the NPM has become a more accurate and complete gauge of Hispanic viewing than the separate Hispanic panel, Nielsen contends.

The change was also made possible by Nielsen’s continuing effort to increase the effectiveness of its identification, recruitment and retention of Hispanic households in its sample. Over the past 15 years, Nielsen has implemented a number of quality initiatives to improve the training of its bilingual field staff, the translations of its materials, and its understanding of the diverse Hispanic community.

Nielsen said it remains committed to ongoing improvement in this area and is partnering with the William C. Velasquez Institute to develop a comprehensive Hispanic Cultural Sensitivity curriculum for Nielsen’s bilingual field staff.