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American music, fashion and food have all been influenced by Hispanic culture, but until recently, Latinos on television have been a rare find. The original 2002 fall TV season, however, had three times as many Latino actors and twice as many Hispanic-themed programs in the broadcast networks' prime-time lineups as there were a decade ago. Yet despite the efforts of network execs to create a more Latino-friendly environment, Hispanic audiences still split their TV viewing time evenly between English network programming and the increasingly popular Spanish-language networks.

According to an in-depth analysis of the round-the-clock TV viewing habits of Hispanic Americans conducted by Los Angeles-based Initiative Media (IM), the average Latino watches 58.6 hours of television per week, 4.4 hours more than the typical non-Hispanic viewer. Yet when it comes to what they watch, the percentage of Hispanics who tune in to the six major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, the WB and UPN) at any given time is approximately half that of non-Hispanics. (See chart.)

That's because Hispanics are passionately devoted to their Spanish-language TV networks (Univision, Telemundo and Telefutura), reveals the IM report. Almost half (49 percent) of Hispanics who are watching television in prime time are viewing Spanish-language programs. In fact, prime-time ratings among Hispanics for Univision alone are nearly equal to the ratings among Hispanics of all six English-language broadcast networks combined.

Certain genres hold greater appeal for Hispanic viewers, depending on whether they are broadcast in English or in Spanish, according to the report. Dramas, for instance, are by far the most watched type of program on Spanish-language networks, due largely to the wildly popular “telenovelas� broadcast nightly. However, on the English-language broadcast networks, dramas are only the sixth most popular genre among Hispanic viewers. Newsmagazines and variety shows are also well liked in Spanish (ranking second and third, respectively, in the ratings), but are only the sixth and ninth most widely watched genres among Hispanic viewers of English-language programs.

It seems that Hispanic audiences turn to English-language television for what they can't get in Spanish. Animated shows, reality programs and police dramas attract the greatest number of Hispanic viewers to the six major English networks, perhaps because these programs are virtually nonexistent on the Spanish-language stations.

When it comes to the most popular networks among Hispanics, no one can compete with the ratings of Univision. (In household ratings, this Spanish-language network outpaces its closest competitor by a margin of 3 to 1.) Yet among the six English-language networks, Fox, with its youthful, satirical programming style, has the highest ratings among young Hispanic males, kids and teens. ABC is the network of choice for Hispanic males 50 and older. Hispanic women under age 50 prefer to watch NBC, and those 50 and older tune in most often to CBS. Certainly, having CSI: Miami on CBS doesn't hurt the network's popularity among Hispanics.

For more information, contact Anaka Kobzev at (323) 370-8027.


During the past TV season, only 3.6 percent of Hispanic households tuned in to a major English-language network during prime time, compared with 6.4 percent of non-Hispanic households that did so. Hispanic households are 43 percent less likely than their non-Hispanic counterparts to be watching English-language TV in prime time.


Weekend morning (kids) 2.6 1.3 +105%
Prime time 3.6 6.4 -43%
Late fringe 1.5 2.9 -49%
Weekend morning (adults) 1.2 2.4 -50%
Early morning 2.0 4.0 -50%
Daytime 1.7 3.6 -53%
Early evening news 2.5 7.0 -64%
*A ratings point represents the percentage of a demographic group that is tuned in to any one of the six broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, the WB and UPN) during the indicated daypart.
**Daypart definitions: weekend morning (kids), 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.; prime time, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.; late fringe, 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.; weekend morning (adults), 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.; early morning, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.; daytime, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; early evening news, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Source: Initiative Media North America
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