June 15, 2007

The Nielsen Ratings of the Future

This week, everybody is writing about the end of The Sopranos, but is smart TV the wave of the future? For example, the triumph of the medical diagnosis show House, with Hugh Laurie's spectacular portrayal of a Greg Cochran-like doctor, is highly gratifying. But, which way is the market really heading?

At the same time, Gov. Schwarzenegger has come under fire from the usual suspects for advising immigrants to turn off the Spanish-language TV in favor of English-language TV:


"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrated his ignorance on immigration issues once again by perpetuating the myth that immigrants have to reject their old culture and language in order to learn English and assimilate," said Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens.


Clearly, the Governor "has demonstrated his ignorance on immigration issues once again." After all, what would Arnold Schwarzenegger know about how immigrants can learn to be successful in America?

So, what's the cultural future look like? Let's check out the Nielsen ratings in the Los Angeles market, the best harbinger of the demographic transition of America. The LA Times doesn't seem to put Nielsen ratings online, so here's the previous week's ratings as transcribed from the June 8th LAT I retrieved from my recycling bin:


LA Rank

US Rank

Show

Day

Network

1

39

Destilando Amor

Th

Univision

2

60

Destilando Amor

We

Univision

3

57

La Fea Mas Bella

We

Univision

4

67

Destilando Amor

Mo

Univision

5

50

La Fea Mas Bella

Th

Univision

6

70

La Fea Mas Bella

Mo

Univision

7

59

La Fea Mas Bella

Tue

Univision

8

55

Destilando Amor

Tue

Univision

9

1

House

Fox

10

87

Destilando Amor

Fr

Univision


Here's a fraction of the plot of the dominant show, the new Mexican telenovela Destilando Amor, according to Wikipedia:


Rodrigo and Gaviota rapidly fall in love and believe that they are soulmates. One late night, Rodrigo and Gaviota sneak into the agave fields and passionately make love to one another under a large tree. After a night of unforgettable passion and love, Rodrigo packs his belongings and returns to Europe so that he could continue with his studies. However, before Rodrigo left, he made a promise to Gaviota that he would return to Tequla in exactly one year...so that he could make Gaviota his wife. Shortly after Rodrigo's departure from Tequila, Gaviota discovers that she is pregnant with his child. Gaviota is too excited to wait for an entire year to give the news to Rodrigo that he will soon be a father, so, she makes a bargain with a photographer. The bargain was that if Gaviota would let the photographer take photographs of her as she modeled for him, he would send her to Paris, France, where she could model for clothing lines. After the photographs are taken, Gaviota is introduced to Madame Colette, a woman of elegance and refinement, and is immediately sent to Europe. While in Paris, Gaviota discovers that she has been viciously tricked by both the photographer and Madame Colette. She was not sent to work as a fashion model...but as a prostitute.

Gaviota successfully escapes from the whore house and with the help of a kind gentleman she is able to travel to London, England. Once Gaviota arrives in London, she instantly begins to search for Rodrigo. On her way from Cambridge University, Gaviota sees Rodrigo walking in the streets. She begins to shout his name, but he does not hear her. Because Gaviota was so excited to see Rodrigo after such a long time, she crossed the street without looking, and was forcefully struck by a car. Rodrigo notices the accident, however, he does not it is Gaviota. Thanks to Mother Felicity, a kind and generous nun, Gaviota was rushed off to a hospital and was performed surgery on. Fortunately, Gaviota's life is saved.


The Mexican telenovela La Fea Mas Bella is based on the same Colombian source as Ugly Betty, so it doesn't sound as dire. Nonetheless, the future looks tacky.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

22 comments:

jody said...

did anybody see that state by state report on high school graduation rates? utah was the best with 83% of students graduating on time, south carolina was the worst with only 53%.

the report also had graduation rates by city and the results were shocking. new york city, los angeles, miami, and dallas all had graduation rates below 50%.

that's crazy. that means in the future the average person in those cities will probably be a high school dropout. the US is heading for serious trouble.

Anonymous said...

...Rodrigo packs his belongings and returns to Europe so that he could continue with his studies.

So it's not a reality show then.

eh

James Kabala said...

Wow. I had no idea (although I supposed I should have realized it) that there were actually markets in which the Nielsen ratings were dominated by Spanish-language shows. What other markets besides L.A. are this fully Hispanicized?

Taylor said...

I think Destilando Amor may be on to something. I watch BBC's "Changing Rooms" and "House Invaders" now and then and Mexican decor is popular. I see a love match in the making. Mexican emigres and England as the country of destination.

BTW, anyone remember "La Fiera" struggling to maintain a relationship with the upper class Victor Alfonso and her friend the uh, possibly prostitute, "con el corazon del oro"?

RKU said...

Actually, these relative Nielsen rankings are pretty misleading.

Remember, LA basically has just one major Spanish-language station (maybe 1 1/3 if we count Telemundo) and probably about a dozen big English-language channels.

So even though the overwhelming majority of Angelenos watch English TV (probably including most US-born Latinos), the English viewship is split up a dozen ways and Univision leads the rankings.

Steve Sailer said...

No, there are at least three, maybe four Spanish language broadcast TV stations in LA. And the number of viewers for Thursday night showing of Destilando Amor in the Los Angeles market was 1,080,000, which isn't small by any standards.

Similarly, check out Arbitron ratings for Spanish-language radio stations in the LA market.

Anonymous said...

Steve is absolutely right.

And it's stunning how stupid Hollywood in particular is about this.

There will be no roles making lots of money, or opportunities, for the sons and daughters of Hollywood's elite. Not when the American people who speak English are replaced basically by the Mexican one who speak Spanish and want Mexican stars.

So Spielberg, Hanks, the Coppola family, etc. will all be replaced by their Mexican analogues. They will occupy niche markets like say aging Borscht Belt comics in the early 1960's or so.

Usually Hollywood is pretty good sniffing out threats and opportunities to it's position, but it's stunning how stupid they are. Neither Sofia Coppola nor Nick Cage are going to appeal to the Mexican audience, and will be reduced to appearing at some Dolly Parton type casino in Arkansas or something.

Steve Sailer said...

"The 7.4 million Hispanics in Los Angeles comprise 15.3 percent of all the Latinos in the United States, according to Nielsen Media Research and BIA Financial Network estimates. Forty-five percent of the market's Latinos are Spanish-dominant speakers, creating an assemblage large enough to support 22 Spanish-language radio stations, 17 audited weekly and daily newspapers, and eight TV stations."

Anonymous said...

Steve,

The number of Spanish speaking radio and television stations in LA goes ti disprove the idea that second and third generation Mexican-Americans will learn English just like the Italians did 100 years ago.

However, to use an analogy, Vito Corleone did not have Italian Television, italian radio, italian language satellite channels, and italian-language DVD's to reinforce his native language.

In the future, there will be almost no reason for immigration mexican to learn English or to function outside of a mexican-culture dominated world in California.

Thursday said...

The best one could say of the Destilando Amor plot is that its not much worse than some Italian operas.

Thursday said...

I think generally the importance of plot to great art is overrated. A great artist can often turn a flimsy or sensational story into something first rate. Try describing the plots of Pamela (servant girl reforms her would be rapist master), Clarissa (kidnapping and placing a young girl in a brothel), Bleak House (spontaneous combustion), Notre-Dame de Paris (corrupt priest tries to capture gypsy girl using alchemy), The Fiery Angel (nuns possessed by the devil), or any number of films by Hitchcock, just to mention a few. Even the plots for such Shakepearean masterpieces like Twelfth Night or Measure for Measure are pretty silly.

Not that the makers of Mexican soap operas are anywhere near that level, but a real artist might be able to turn even Destilando Amor into something worthwhile.

RKU said...

Well, I suppose that's what I deserve for talking so knowingly about the TV stations in a city in which I haven't lived for decades.

Still, if LA has 8 Spanish TV stations, I'd assume it also has dozens of English ones, maintaining my market-fragmentation argument.

It would be very interesting if TV or some other commenter can locate the aggregate Nielsen ratings for all LA's English TV stations and compare it to the aggregate for all the Spanish ones. I'd suspect that the total English share is 2-3 times greater at least

Josh said...

Have to throw this in:Arnold gets castigated by one BRENT WILKES,executive dir. of Latin American Blah Blah Blah?? "Wilkes " aint Spanish last time I looked. If this is the same Brent Wilkes who has been mixed up with the filthy Randy "Duke" Cunningham,and a LOT of sleazy filthy dirty lobbying issues---and by gum,I think it is---this really shows how slimey and rotten the whole immigration "movement" is. Millions of semi-literate poor workers,mestizoes and Indians,being "represented" by this scumbag? If you're a loud-mouthed fathead Latino spokesman,dont you at least have to be part Latino??Anyway,back to the topic at hand...

josh said...

So I guess Destilando Amor is not sponsored by the Mexican Telephone Co.?? :D BTW,I know from personal experience that Mexicans are dedicated to their TV shows--especially the mujers! And Spanish TV is uniformly awful! Yeah yeah I know they have those sexy girls,as opposed to American TV giving us,say, the women of the View,so yes that is nice,but the shows are terrible. Did you know thy have a Spanish Family Feud?? Now,Korean TV,its a little classier. But their shows are more morose & gloomy,where Spanish TV is more festive! Which do you prefer: the smoldering beautiful Latina,or the smoldering beautiful Koreanette??

ben tillman said...

The 7.4 million Hispanics in Los Angeles comprise 15.3 percent of all the Latinos in the United States, according to Nielsen Media Research and BIA Financial Network estimates.

In other words, the Hispanic population is a full 50 million, not the 35-40 million the government estimates.

Anonymous said...

"...said Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens."

A guy named Brent Wilkes is the national executive director of this organization? Does anybody else think that it is kind of weird it isn't a hispanic? I checked the website and he seems to be the only non-hispanic guy on there(if I missed someone, let me know).

Anonymous said...

The Governator is right on the language issue, but the problem with his argument is that immigrants, regardless of their assimilation level, will want news about the motherland so they can see what's happening to the extended family.

Given the English-language networks' niggardly staffing of their foreign bureaus, they are not a realistic alternative for people who want to know about the latest news back in Carambia or whatever.

J. said...

I would enjoy Steve writing a review of Destilando Amor. BTW, what is that nonsense about the agave field? The screenwriter have never seen a real agave plantation. They are dry, dusty, full of snakes and biting insects, as well as treeless. A most unsuitable, uncomfortable place to make passionate love. Except this detail, the story shows la vida como realmente es, life as it really is.

Horatio said...

These shows may be crap, but they sure as hell beat reality TV.

The one good thing about Latin American television, scantily clad women dance around the screen at least once an hour.

Andrea said...

Hispanic tv may be awful, but is English-speaking tv really all that much better? It seems to me that the problem is worldwide -- popular entertainment is dreck. But for some reason people like dreck, thus the popularity of it. There just aren't that many people going to the ballet or opera these days, anywhere. They'd rather stay home and watch an awful soap, or a(n) (un)talent show, or sports.

Anonymous said...

American TV no good,you say?? Two words:Jack Bauer,baby! :D

Anonymous said...

Day time soap operas, Grey's Anatomy, Nip Tuck, Desperate Housewives, Jerry Springer...I guess this is much better than a telenovela. I have to admit that Spanish television in the U.S. is awful, but the stuff imported from other latin american countries is good. The primetime novelas in the U.S. come from Mexico, and I have to say that there are some that are way better than the primetime sex and drug related crap from American primetime.
Destilando Amor maybe a shadow of some opera, but if you actually new Spanish, you would see that it is more than it seems. But God forbid America accept other languages, unlike other succesful European countries that have as much as three official languages. English doesn't have to be trumped,and it won't be, at least not for a looooooong while. English is the official language of the world, so I see this fear of Spanish taking over as a show of fear, and there shouldn't be any fear. American, and the English language, are at the top of the world and still will be for a long time. I mean, no empire last for ever, but I doubt Spanish television will bring about a change in America.