Univision is in the sweet spot for growth


He used to be a big wig at NBC when it was at the top of the heap in general market television, but Randy Falco is now President and CEO of Univision Communications – and judging from his quarterly conference call with analysts on Friday (2/24) he couldn’t be happier. Citing the wake-up call of the US Census numbers released last year, Falco said every media executive in the country is now focused on how to grow in Hispanic media and digital media. Univision is busy growing in both.

“The release of the 2010 US Census results made 2011 a landmark year for Univision and the entire Hispanic media industry.  The Census results showed that our core audience, which is already one in six Americans, is expected to grow to one in three Americans in 40 years.  Widespread acknowledgement of the power and potential of the US Hispanic community will only result in increased attention to Hispanic media in the years to come; and because of the tremendous brand equity Univision has built over half a century in this business, we are uniquely positioned to capitalize on Hispanic audience growth,” Falco said in the company’s quarterly financial announcement – comments he summarized in his conference call with analysts.

“To that end, in 2011 and 2012, Univision is laying the groundwork for growth, investing in new networks and expanding our digital distribution capabilities to deliver the full value of our exclusive programming partnership with Televisa. These efforts are enhancing Univision’s audience engagement, as demonstrated by strong ratings and persistent live viewership – Univision finished the fourth quarter with the highest percentage of live viewers in primetime compared to the major broadcast networks. It is the power of our unique relationship with the US Hispanic community and the strength of our programming that led Dish Network to partner with Univision earlier this year as the first distributor of our forthcoming networks. This agreement is an important milestone in our programming strategy and we look forward to continuing to build on existing momentum to further monetize our portfolio while delivering new, compelling content to audiences in 2012,” Falco declared.

Univision reported revenue growth of 1.3% for 2011 and 6.9% for the fourth quarter. Since then things have only gotten better, with CFO Andrew Hobson telling analysts that current ad pacings are up over 8%.

With record spending forecast for the 2012 election cycle, Univision has invested $5-6 million on a political sales team to capture as much of that cash as possible for the company’s TV, radio and digital platforms. The only downside, Hobson noted, is that Univision’s market footprint doesn’t line up well with the swing states, except in Florida with its Miami operations.

RBR-TVBR observation: Even without a lot of swing states for the presidential race, Univision and other broadcasters are going to draw lots of advertising for state and congressional races, plus issue votes in various states. Given the size of the US Hispanic population, it’s a constituency that no one can ignore if they want to win an election.