Ethnic Media Audience Trends
2006 Annual Report
Circulation and audience figures for the print side of the ethnic media are difficult to track in the traditional way. Absent large groups to gather the data across the various languages, researchers are left to piece together what they can city-by-city. And often the numbers gathered are publisher estimates that, to attract advertisers, could be made to look larger than they really are.
The Spanish-language media have the most organized audience data of the ethnic groups, and the picture is something of a reversal from past years. For the first time since 2000, the data suggest that Spanish-language newspapers lost circulation. The audience for television, however, appears to be growing.
The Latino Print Network, a coalition of Hispanic print news outlets (roughly 90% of which are published in Spanish) gathers data from across the country. Even with those figures, the state of the Spanish-language newspaper audience is hard to pin down, and it should be noted that LPN is not an impartial source. But it seems 2004 was a down year in audience for Spanish-language newspapers.
Until 2004, every year for which the Latino Print Network has data (going back intermittently to 1970) had brought new records in circulation and in the number of publications. But in 2004 circulation dropped to 16.7 million from 17.4 million, according to LPN.1 Most of the losses came in daily and weekly newspapers. Monthly and semi-monthly papers showed an increase, according to the figures.
Despite declines in circulation, the LPN data also show that the number of newspapers increased at all levels, dailies from 40 to 42, weeklies from 304 to 317, less-than-weeklies from 322 to 345.2
The biggest question about the LPN data, however, is reliability. Out of the 42 dailies papers for which it gathers numbers, only 18 are audited. Only 75 of the 317 weeklies are audited, and only 8 of the 345 less-than-weekly papers.3
The figures for three of the largest audited dailies suggest clear differences in audience trends in three cities with very different ethnic populations.
In Los Angeles , La Opinion was enjoying growth. The paper averaged 125,624 in circulation in 2004 (the latest available audited figures) up from 117,817 in 2001, an increase of 7%.4 In Miami , the numbers were essentially flat for El Nuevo Herald — 88,977 in 2004 and 88,904 in 2001.5 And in New York , El Diario was experiencing declines. The paper had a circulation of 50,105 in the third quarter of 2004, compared with 55,397 in the third quarter of 2001 — a drop of about 10%.6 (The general trend for English-language daily newspaper circulation in 2005 was down, though figures varied from city to city.7)
There are a number of possible reasons for the disparity between cities. One is the editorial product each paper provides. And the specific media environments differ; some papers face more serious competition than others, as El Diario has with Hoy. There is also the fact that these are different populations. They may all speak Spanish, but their national origins are varied — the Miami area has a large Cuban population, New York has many Dominicans and Los Angeles is heavily Mexican. Whatever the reason, geography seems to matter with Spanish-language newspapers.
Spanish-language television news may have even more potential than print, considering the amount of television viewed in Hispanic homes. Hispanic households, according to Nielsen Media Research, watch much more television than U.S. households in general, and that is true across all age groups. Again, that isn’t to say all those homes are Spanish-language-dominant, but they are more likely to watch Spanish-language TV than homes at large. (There is some debate within the television industry about how Hispanic homes are measured by Nielsen. For more on the controversy see the Network TV chapter.)
What’s more, the number of Hispanic households with televisions is growing. In the 2004-2005 TV season 10.91 million of them had televisions, up from 9.73 million in 2002-2003, an increase of 12%. Over the same period, the number of TV households where Spanish was the primary language grew by about 19%, from 4.26 million to 5.06 million.8
Who is in the best position to capitalize on this growth?
One company — Univision — continued to dominate Spanish-language television. Its flagship Univision network reached 98% of all U.S. Hispanic households in 2005, according to the network. Its second network, TeleFutura, aimed at younger viewers, was launched in 2002 and reached 86% of U.S. Hispanic households, the network said.9
Univision remained the fifth most watched network in the U.S. over all in 2005, holding steady in that position from 2004. And its demographics, which benefit from the younger Hispanic population, are impressive.10 In the third quarter of 2005, Univision’s 18-to-49 audience averaged 1.98 million prime-time viewers, an increase of 19% over the third quarter of 2004. In prime time, the network ranked second over all in average viewership among 18-34-year-olds in the third quarter of 2005, behind only Fox. And Univision was the No. 1 prime-time network among viewers 18 to 49 in Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Phoenix, Fresno and Bakersfield.11
It is worth noting, though, that Univision’s robust figures come in part from the fact that the network’s competition is the more fragmented English-language broadcast media market, where ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox are competing against not just one another but cable as well.
Still, those numbers reveal an impressive market for Spanish-language television and Univision’s dominance of it. There are signs, however, that NBC-owned Telemundo, still a distant second in the race (and recently even third behind TeleFutura), is gaining some ground. In the third quarter of 2005, Telemundo reclaimed its spot as the No. 2 Spanish-language network behind Univision in prime time. And while TeleFutura still leads in all other parts of the day, Telemundo finally appeared to be gaining some momentum.