Univision touts ratings growth as revenues slip


Q4 revenues declined 7.8% at Univision, with radio down more than television. Even the Interactive Media division was down. Despite the tough ad sales environment, President Ray Rodriguez bragged on ratings growth for the Univision TV network, while saying the radio division had maintained strong ratings.

Univision’s target demo is 18-34, so Rodriguez proudly noted that the network beat CBS in that demo for 2008 primetime in total to become the #4 network 18-49, behind Fox, NBC and ABC. He also bragged on KMEX-TV Los Angeles, which is the #1 station in the country, regardless of language, for primetime, total day, early news and late local news in the coveted 18-49 demo.

Even with those strong ratings, Univision Communications saw Q4 revenues for its TV division fall 6.2% to $389.7 million, while operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA) fell 13.6% to $165.3 million. Radio revenues were down 13.6% to $99.4 million and OIBDA dropped 15.2% to $43.6 million. Interactive Media revenues decline 5.8% to $13 million and OIBDA dropped 14.8% to $4.6 million. So, for the entire company, Q4 revenues were dwon 7.8% to $502.1 million and OIBDA fell 13.9% to $213.5 million.

The picture was a bit better for the entire year. TV revenues were down 2.1% to $1.56 billion and OIBDA declined 6.5% to $631 million. But Univision’s revenues are skewed not only by political advertising, but also by major soccer tournaments. Excluding those, TV revenues were down only 0.6% for the year and adjusted EBITDA was down 3.7%. 2008 radio revenues declined 3.7% to $414.1 million and OIBDA was off 9.2% to $157.9 million. Interactive Media revenues were down 8.2% to $42.5 million and OIBDA declined 36.3% to $9.3 million. For all of Univision Communications, 2008 revenues declined 2.5% to $2.02 billion and OIBDA was down 7.5% to $798.2 million.

Univision isn’t giving any revenue guidance for 2009, but company officials said it continues to outperform the overall television industry. Meanwhile, the company is expecting a big boost from retransmission consent payments to somewhat counter the soft advertising market. With most major deals completed, retrans is expected to add more than $100 million to the top line in 2009. Rodriguez confirmed, though, that the company is still negotiating with Dish Network and subscribers to the satellite service have been notified that removal of Univision’s various programming channels “could be a likely outcome.”

On the radio side, Univision’s quarterly announcement noted its disagreement with Arbitron over how the Portable People Meter measures Hispanics. “In the markets which continue to be measured by the Arbitron diary method, Univision Radio has continued to post solid ratings. For the Fall 2008 book, Univision Radio stations in San Antonio, San Diego, Puerto Rico, Phoenix, McAllen and Las Vegas were ranked #1 among all Adults 25-54 (Hispanic and Non-Hispanic). In addition, Univision Radio had the #1 ranked Spanish-language stations among Adults 18-34 and Adults 25-54 in Miami, San Antonio, San Diego, Phoenix, McAllen, Las Vegas, Albuquerque and Fresno. Univision Radio is not using Arbitron’s Personal People Meter (“PPM”) data in non-accredited PPM markets due to issues with the PPM measurement process and sample.”