question of the day: The most-coveted U.S. TV viewers are turning to Univision: will we see more shows with Hispanic appeal on English-language TV?

Entertainment in the United States hit a milestone this week that could potentially have a dramatic impact on the flavor of pop culture. From The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Univision was the most popular network among television viewers aged 18 to 49 years old last week, the first time a Spanish-language station has beaten English stations in this key demographic in the United States.

Soap operas reaching key points in their stories combined with a desultory week of reality and reruns at the English broadcast networks made the milestone possible.

On television, the 18-to-49-year-old demographic is considered so important to advertisers that ABC, NBC and Fox pay more attention to these ratings than they do for viewership as a whole.

Univision was similarly popular by another measure this summer, too:

In July, Univision beat all the broadcast networks for the month among viewers aged 18 to 34, Nielsen said. With a growing Latino population and that youthful audience, last week’s milestone could become commonplace.

It sounds like the AP is trying to find a reason other than the growing Hispanic/Latino population in the U.S. for Univision’s popularity — Oh, well, there was nothing to watch on the English-language networks anyway. That may be shortsighted, though, as another section of the article suggests:

[Univision’s] backbone… is the prime-time soap operas, known as telenovelas, that run five times a week. One episode of the 9 p.m. telenovela, “Soy tu Duena” (“I’m Your Owner”), finished among Nielsen’s top 20 among all viewers last week.

In that show, the character Valentina Villalba, who found love again after being abandoned at the altar, saw her new love come face to face with her ex-fiance.

In the 8 p.m. show, “Hasta Que El Dinero Nos Separe” (“Until the Money Separates Us”), a woman plans to ask her husband for a divorce because she suspects him of infidelity. She wants to marry a man who had earlier caused the couple to be injured in an auto accident.

“The Hispanic demographic connects with this type of programming because of its cultural relevancy,” Conde said. “Viewers at the end of the day want to watch high-quality programming that they connect with, regardless of language.”

More Hispanic viewers by sheer numbers would seem to indicate that the big four networks — ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox — would have to begin acknowledging their existence in ways beyond token characters on mostly white shows.

The most-coveted U.S. TV viewers are turning to Univision: will we see more shows with Hispanic appeal on English-language TV?

Perhaps one of the big four will launch an English-language primetime soap similar to a telenovela?

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