Nielsen levels ratings field

Hispanic People Meter gets shelved

Nielsen Media Research said Monday that its English- and Spanish-language ratings started coming from the same panel this week, spelling the end of the National Hispanic People Meter that began in 1992.

The reliance on the National People Meter sample gives both English- and Spanish-language networks the same metrics, which allows for the industry to compare audiences for them in a way that hasn't been achieved until now. Some Spanish-language networks had been using the ratings data from the People Meter since December 2005; now all will.

Nationally distributed networks impacted include Univision, Telemundo, Telefutura and Azteca America.

"Immediately it will give us an apples-to-apples comparison to the general market," Telemundo president Don Browne said.

Ceril Shagrin, senior vp corporate research at Univision, who started her career at Nielsen, agreed.

"This takes us to the next level," she said. "It puts us on an even playing field."

There's no question that Hispanic TV has grown by leaps and bounds, with viewership jumping from 22.2 million in 1993 to 38.9 million today. Ad spending reached $3 billion in 2006. That will only accelerate with this development, Browne said.

"Spanish-language television has been exploding and evolving, and it's been a little bit of a mystery to the general market," Browne said. "But (the Nielsen announcement) simplifies and creates an even playing field, and you can see on a day-to-day basis how many people are coming to the television set and the kind of buying power" the Hispanic audience has, Browne added.

For Univision, it's another sign that the network not only is the most popular among U.S. Hispanics but also outdelivers English-language broadcast networks on any given night.

"We've firmly established ourselves as the No. 5 network," Shagrin said.

Nielsen Media Research is owned by the Nielsen Co., parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.