NBC gets it. But does Telemundo?

NBC has seen the Spanish writing on the wall. And while others might see a threat, or a niche that will fade away, the network sees the future – and fat profits.Last month, the peacock network announced it was selling off its owned & operated English-language station in South Florida, WTVJ-Channel 6. But it said it wasn’t including its Spanish-language sister station, WSCV-Channel 51, in the deal.

The Spanish-language station, it said, is not for sale.

How can it be? Cutting loose a Big Three affiliate and keeping an O&O of the perennially second-place Spanish network Telemundo?

The truth is that NBC, which owns Telemundo, is making a brilliant move. It recognizes where the growth is, and isn’t.

English-language networks have seen their viewership shrinking for years. This year, hammered by a stalled season of shows because of the writers’ strike, it’s even worse.

Viewership for all of the Big Three networks is down compared to the year before. ABC is doing best, if you can call it that, with a 7.6 percent decline. NBC comes in at second with a 10.95 percent drop. And CBS is bringing up the rear with a dismal 19.87 percent drop from the ’06-’07 season.

Making matters worse for the nets, a tanking economy and questions about the value of television spots in an age of TiVo and the Internet has advertisers holding back on spending. Network ad spending dropped 2 percent from the year before. But that was almost good news compared to spot buys: that dropped 10.2 percent last year compared to 2006.

But there’s one television category that’s not losing viewers: Spanish. In fact, while it’s English-language counterparts have seen their viewers disappearing faster than rabbits in a Vegas magic act, Spanish-language television has been gaining viewers and advertising revenue.

In 2007, advertisers spent 1.5 percent more on Spanish-language TV than they did the year before.

It’s all a function of national demographics – and it’s only going to become more pronounced in the years ahead. And of course we all know that Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic in the nation, increasing three times faster than the rest of the country.

And while the folks at Telemundo sometimes are there own worst enemy as they recently showed by canceling their New York up front (someone forgot, that all sales and no schmooze is a great way to lose) or by the recent naming of a total outsider as their new COO (insiders are disappointed and dumb-founded) at least they have a parent company that gets it.

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