Univision made television history in the U.S. last month by taking the number one spot in ratings for viewers aged 18-49, beating out the four majors. In a show of machismo, the Spanish-language network took out full page ads in LA Times, NY Times and Wall Street Journal to tout its accomplishment.
Ratings hawks have pointed out that July is traditionally among the slowest months in TV viewership. With audiences at a low, the major networks aren’t necessarily putting their best foot forward with programming. Sports are a factor in TV ratings during the summer as well, when football and basketball are on hiatus. They’re the two most popular sports in the U.S. and their audience is dominated by prime age adults, the same group that made up Univision’s ratings win.
In fact, sports could have played a more direct role in Univision’s victory. The culprit — soccer. Univision had exclusive rights among Spanish-language stations in the U.S. to cover the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which ran throughout July. Oddly enough, the U.S. won the tournament, and FOX aired the final where they beat Panama. Before soccer detractors pull out the “see we don’™t like it here” picket signs, the majority of the tournament aired on ESPN in the U.S. and therefore didn’t factor into any of the major networks’ ratings.