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Can Social Save Television?

If you have followed social engagement as it relates to the broadcast industry, then you understand its importance and the influence it can have on driving ratings growth.

Take the Univision Network as an example. This year, for the second consecutive year, Univision won the July 2014 sweeps, beating out ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. The news came recently after the 2014 Social TV Awards, where Univision was honored seven times and took home the coveted “Best Broadcast Network” award.

For us at Univision, social is an important part of our strategic approach to drive discovery and engagement in a very competitive media landscape. Univision is  focused on driving digital audience development and direct monetization. To this end, we saw a nearly 350% increase in social driving audiences (referral traffic) across all of its platforms between Q1 2013 and Q1 2014.

Our efforts are working:

  • Young people use social and, according to Nielsen, the median age of our primetime audience is just 39 – 17 years younger than the average for ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC.
  • Univision’s morning news show, Despierta America, generates more Tweets per unique than NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America or CBS This Morning.
  • Univision’s beauty reality show, Nuestra Belleza Latina, is one of the top shows on Twitter, with each fan sending an average 8.3 tweets per airing, and in fact, it was the first television show – in English or Spanish – to top the Facebook weekly buzz rankings.
  • The 2014 FIFA World Cup on Univision generated 55 million Tweets, two times the number for Super Bowl XLVIII.
  • Our youth awards show, Premios Juventud, delivered more social engagement than the Oscars, Golden Globes or MTV Movie Awards.
  • We also nearly doubled the number of people tweeting while watching our content on the Univision Network between 2012 and 2013, the highest growth-rate across all English- and Spanish-language broadcast networks.  Additionally, the number of Univision Facebook fans and Twitter followers has increased 387% since the beginning of 2013.

A study recently released by Nielsen also confirms our belief that our success in the sweeps is directly tied to our social media efforts. The report found that social media has a profoundly positive effect on Hispanic viewers who report the highest program awareness, television enjoyment and live TV watching of any group.

So, how did we achieve this success and how can other media companies replicate this?

Two years ago, Univision made the decision to expand its social media efforts and dedicate resources to supporting its entertainment, news and sports programming. Our goal was to provide a Univision branded experience everywhere our audience wanted it – and, ultimately,  to help our viewers discover content on various media platforms and to make it easier for them to share it through their social channels.

It was an ambitious undertaking, but it wasn’t really a gamble – we’d done our research. We knew that 80% of all U.S. Hispanics use social media and that our own audience was younger and over-indexed on social; that 68%  of U.S. Hispanics use platforms like Facebook and Twitter; and that Hispanics are twice as likely to share content on social media. In general, we also felt that content consumption was changing and that all potential viewers wanted to get their entertainment, news and sports from the screen or device of their choice - a belief that the recent Nielsen study just confirmed.

We also recognized that social media meshed perfectly with our overall mission: to provide meaningful, interactive experiences to our audience while also entertaining, informing and empowering them. We were confident social media would deepen our already-strong relationship with our viewers and help us continue the passionate and diverse conversation Univision started with them more than 50 years ago.

Last month @socialTVtrends, which reports on apps, social platforms and digital marketing, shouted on Twitter, “Univision rocks social TV integration!”

Our success in the July Nielsen sweeps and at the prestigious Social TV Awards combined with the increased engagement we are seeing gives us confidence that our approach is working, but more importantly, it proves that viewers want an expanded approach to social media that allows them to discover new content and engage with it – and each other – in new and exciting ways.

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