Mega TV Slump Can’t Stop SBS From Strong Q1


NEW YORK — With a 5.0 share 6+, Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS)-owned Tropical WSKQ-FM “Mega 97.9” is not only the No. 1 Hispanic radio station in the nation’s No. 1 Nielsen Audio market, but it is also the most-listened-to Spanish-language radio station in the U.S.

Spanish Contemporary sibling WPAT-FM 93.1 “Amor” is the market’s second-ranked Hispanic radio station, well ahead of Univision Radio’s WXNY-FM.

It is this type of radio dominance, also seen in key markets such as Los Angeles and Miami, that helped SBS achieve 10% consolidated net revenue growth in Q1 despite a swing in the opposite direction at the Albert Rodriguez-helmed Mega TV division.

Consolidated net revenue jumped to $37.36 million from $33.9 million, and it is all thanks to a 17% gain in radio revenue, to $34.08 million.

Mega TV, overseen by the SBS COO, saw a 30% fall in revenue, to $3.28 million from $4.66 million.

That said, it was a big quarter for Mega TV, with Ismael Cala — a veteran telejournalist who spent many years at CNN en Español — joining for a 3pm issues and news-focused talk program. There’s also a new early fringe edition of its Mega News, helmed by Natalia Cruz, and the January 2019 arrival of La Comay, a variety show featuring a hand puppet that became infamous in the early 2010s for alleged “yellow journalism” and homophobic comments.

With so much change all at once, Mega TV’s adjusted OIBDA slid by 82%, to $138,000. Radio division OIBDA was off by 7%, to $10.9 million.

Special event revenue and barter, along with network and national sales, drove radio, while digital and local sales decreased.

At Mega TV, local, digital and national sales were up. What was the problem? Special event revenue and, importantly, subscriber fees were down. Production costs, as expected, also grew.

Under Rodriguez, Mega TV has become a profit-making cog in a company with strong cash flow but a debt issue that has not yet been resolved. Should programming moves in Q1 pan out, SBS could be in for a banner 2019.

On the radio side, unprecedented growth in one of the nation’s most competitive Hispanic radio markets, Los Angeles, was seen. Here, SBS’s regional Mexican KLAX-FM 97.9 “La Raza” is the top-rated Hispanic-focused station, far ahead of Univision Radio regional Mexican KSCA-FM and LBI Media’s KBUE-FM “Qué Buena.”

At the same time, KLAX is tied with Hispanic CHR KXOL-FM “Mega 96.3” — the only station in the market devoted to reggaetón and Latin Urban artists. It was a banner April 2019 report for KXOL, which is enjoying its highest ratings since SBS acquired the property from Foursquare Church in 2003 for a whopping $250 million.