Univision’s ‘One Who Couldn’t Love’ Rises to Most-Watched

Univision Communications Inc., the biggest U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster, broke into the top 25 most-watched shows for the first time with “La Que No Podia Amar,” drawing viewers not interested in the Olympics.

Three episodes of the telenovela, which translates into “The One Who Couldn’t Love,” ranked among the most-watched prime-time shows in the week ended Aug. 5, according to Nielsen data. The top seven slots went to Olympics coverage on Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s NBC. The series finale airs tonight.

NBC’s Olympics telecast has pulled viewers from the other English language networks, opening the door for Univision and Spanish-speaking audiences not keen on sports. Since the London Games began, Univision is the only broadcaster other than NBC to gain share among the younger viewers marketers target, the company said in a statement, citing Nielsen.

“They are closing the gap,” said Brad Adgate, head of research at Horizon Media, a New York-based advertising company. “They are more apt to be a stronger contender in the summer when the English language networks are airing repeats.”

The network’s telenovela was produced by Mexico City-based Grupo Televisa SAB, a major program supplier and investor in Univision, and has aired on the network since February. Set on a cattle ranch, the soap opera stars Jorge Salinas, Jose Ron, Susana Gonzalez and Ana Brenda, according to Univision.

Over five episodes last week, Univision drew an average 4.87 million viewers a night, Nielsen data show. That compares with an average prime-time audience of 3.61 million nightly for the full season. That placed Univision third in total audience, behind NBC and CBS Corp. (CBS) The network ranked second in the 18- to-49-year-old group that advertisers target.

Audience Surge

Univision, based in New York, was acquired in 2007 for $12.6 billion by Saban Capital Group Inc., Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, Providence Equity Partners Inc., TPG Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP.

In the last two weeks, the total audience for “La Que No Podia Amar” has surged by 509,000 viewers compared with the average during the program’s seven-month run, Univision said in the statement.

The show has also ranked as the highest non-Olympic program, or the second-highest behind NBC’s broadcasts, on weeknights among viewers ages 18 to 49, a group targeted by advertisers, Univision said.

Latinos represent 16 percent of the U.S. population, a number that may almost double to 30 percent by 2050, Univision said in May when it unveiled plans to start an English-language network for Hispanics with Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s ABC News. The company faces competition from new entrants, including News Corp. (NWSA)’s Mundo Fox and Comcast’s El Rey, along with established rivals like Telemundo, also part of Comcast.

“Their audience will become more fragmented,” Adgate said. “The ratings will flatten out a little bit.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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