New TV math for Hispanic viewers

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Nielsen Media Research is ready to make changes in how it counts Hispanic viewers, and Tom McGarrity, co-president of network sales at dominant Spanish-language Univision Television Networks, believes that will boost Univision's ratings significantly. During last week's Hispanic TV upfront market, he told advertisers Nielsen overstates the English-language audience and plans to introduce language weighting to counter that bias.

"We recognize our sample tends to be low on Spanish-dominant households because they're more difficult to recruit," said Paul Donato, chief research officer at Nielsen Media Research. "Weighting represents a statistical method of correcting that."

Although the new system will only formally begin in September 2003, Mr. McGarrity said Nielsen would begin providing parallel weighted estimates this fall that will enable comparisons to be made. "We've always had the audience," Mr. McGarrity said. "Now it's going to be counted accurately."

Currently, Nielsen also does a separate Hispanic panel. Mr. Donato said Nielsen has been encouraged by the American Association of Advertising Agencies to look at integrating the Hispanic panel and the national sample to form a single sample. He said no decision has been made yet.

Mario Rodriguez, Univision's president of entertainment, said Nielsen has had to make changes in the past to measure Hispanic viewers, such as revamping the 8-button People Meter to hold 16 buttons to accommodate extended Hispanic families.

Univision estimates that advertisers are overpaying English-language networks $680 million a year in ad dollars that should go to networks like Univision to reach Spanish-speaking viewers.

In elaborate presentations last week to audiences of close to 1,000, Univision and rival Telemundo unveiled what they hope will be next season's hits. Univision is fielding the Mexican version of game show "Family Feud,"as well as another game show called "Who's Afraid?" in which contestants perform scary or revolting feats for cash, and an animated comedy series called "Baldo."

At Telemundo's upfront, media buyers liked the upcoming Spanish-language version of "Temptation Island" and the big-finish performance of salsa legend Celia Cruz that left the audience dancing in the aisles.

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