Spanish-language stations are no longer kings of the local airwaves.
It’s a dramatic drop for several outlets that spent years at or near the top of the Business Journal’s annual lists of local radio and broadcast television outlets.
Spanish-language stations shed listeners and viewers over the past year and have fallen completely out of the top five on both of this year’s lists.
Combined audience share for radio stations broadcasting in Spanish fell more than 2 points year-over-year in October, while Spanish-language television stations lost more than 3 points, according to Nielsen Co.
Two large English-language radio station chains – iHeartMedia Inc. of San Antonio, Texas and CBS Radio of New York – increased their combined market share by 2 points.
The two account for control of almost half the local radio market between them and own nine of the 10 most popular local radio stations.
Media experts attribute the shift from Spanish-language media leading the market to English-language overtaking the field this year to several factors. There’s been a shift in preferences among younger listeners in Spanish-speaking communities for English-speaking media, among other things.
“We’re seeing a significant drop in Spanish-language audiences for legacy media,” said Jose Benavides, professor of journalism at California State University Northridge.
New York-based Univision Communications’ KLVE-FM 107.5, with an adult contemporary format, is the highest-ranking Spanish language radio station at No. 7, while Univision’s KMEX Channel 34 is the highest-ranking Spanish language broadcast television station at No. 6.
Each station fell two spots – KLVE was No. 5 and KMEX was No. 4 last year.
The Spanish-language radio stations on the list had a combined 19.4 audience share in October, down 2.2 points from 21.6 for the same year-ago period. Spanish-language television stations had a combined average of 172,000 viewers daily, down 3.3 percent from 178,000 in 2016.
English-language radio stations overall saw their audience share increase from 56 to 58, and English-language television stations saw viewership rise 5.6 percent
to 543,000. The gains for English-language stations accounted for an overall 3.2 percent hike in local broadcast television viewership to 715,000.
Benavides and other local broadcast market watchers said the falloff in the audiences for Spanish-language radio and television stations is a result of several trends converging: a slowdown in Spanish-speaking immigrants entering the region; assimilation of second- and third-generation Spanish-speaking families who now choose English-language stations as their first preference; migration of young Spanish-speakers to streaming and social media platforms; and a generally slow response from broadcast media to adapt their programming to the tastes of Spanish-speaking audiences under 35.
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