Correcting the Univision Record
Earlier this week Nielsen Media Research released the ratings of Sunday's Hispanic-targeted presidential debate. Aired on Univision, the largest Spanish-language network in the U.S., Univision claimed that the Democratic debate reached 4.6 million people. That figure, touted by the network and originally reported on here, wasn't entirely accurate. It refers to the overall reach of the broadcast -- the total number of people who, at any given six minutes (ask Nielsen why six minutes), tuned in. In fact, the total average viewers for Sunday's debate was 2.2 million, more than a million short of last week's Republican debate on Fox News.
Officials at Univision said that reporting the debate's cumulative audience -- 4.6 million -- is an industry standard, the same way the Oscars, the Super Bowl and the World Series report their ratings. "We were comparing apples to apples," said Univision spokeswoman Maryam Banikarim.
Even with the 2.2 million figure, Univision is claiming success. Its debate drew in the biggest audience thus far of all the debates in the 18 to 34 and 25 to 54 demographics, even beating the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate in July, Banikarim noted. Univision, she pointed out, attracts a younger audience.
Sunday night's 90-minute debate, held at the University of Miami, featured all but one of the Democratic White House hopefuls. The format was somewhat confusing: questions were posed in Spanish and then translated to English. "It was a little hard to follow -- I kept listening with one ear to the English response, then listening in one ear to the Spanish translation," said Sanchez. It was moderated by Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Sanchez, the anchors of the popular evening newscast "Noticiero" and the Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric of Univision. Some viewers
thought the debate had no clear winner. Immigration was the central topic, and Sen. Hillary Clinton drew a loud applause when she said: "We all know that this has become a contentious political issue. It is being demagogued, and I believe that is being used to bash immigrants, and that must stop." Sen. Barack Obama also received a warm reception when he likened the work of Cesar Chavez, the legendary labor activist, to that of Martin Luther King. Jr.
The GOP debate, originally scheduled for Sun., Sept. 16, was postponed. Univision cited scheduling conflicts among the candidates.
If Sunday's ratings is any indication, the fastest-growing electoratein the country, 40 percent of whom voted for President Bush in 2004, are eager to hear from Republicans.
--Jose Antonio Vargas
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