Falco Returns To TV Roots, Joins Univision As COO

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Following a contentious stint at the helm of AOL, Randy Falco is back to doing what he knows and does best: overseeing the TV stations, ad sales and marketing for leading Spanish-language media company Univision. 

His appointment as Univision's COO comes nearly two years after his departure as CEO at AOL, where he eliminated $2.5 billion in costs, $1.6 billion in strategic acquisitions and advertising business development necessary for the Internet giant to be publicly spun off from Time Warner.

Falco was succeeded by former Googler Tim Armstrong, who still struggles with ways to turn around AOL's fortunes.

"I have tried everything and taken a lot of chances here, which is the only way you can manage through change. I have been willing to make the changes and the tough decisions amid all the criticism," Falco said at the time. "No one appreciates how profound a change it is to take a company and completely re-pivot this way, from a subscription business into an ad-supported Web business."

Falco joined AOL in November 2006 after a long career at NBC, where he rose to become president and COO at NBC Universal Television Group, overseeing affiliate relations, business development, broadcast and cable television distribution and Telemundo, a secondary rival to Univision.

Under a five-year contract at Univision, Falco will have similar responsibilities in the newly created position of COO. He will heighten Univision's outreach to advertisers and agencies, which have underestimated the strength of Spanish-language television and the 46 million Hispanic Americans who comprise 15% of the country's population. Hispanic Americans are expected to comprise twice that, or 30% of the U.S. population, by 2050.

"The explosive growth of mobile devices provides enormous opportunity for Univision to expand its offerings in news, sports and entertainment," Falco said in an interview.

"The opportunity for advertisers is to turn Hispanic viewers into interactive consumers using e-commerce," he said. Univision merged its online and mobile operations into the newly formed Univision Interactive Media in 2009, when it also launched Univision Studios. Much of that progress will ride on Univision's rights to World Cup Soccer and other popular sports. Falco said he intends to make the most of integrating Univision cable, online and broadcast TV and radio presence.

Falco said his priorities are to increase Univision's ad sales and support, launch new partnerships, new interactive media and mobile revenue streams and leverage Univision's underplayed strength as the fifth-most-popular broadcaster behind the four traditional networks.

Univision also dominates the much sought-after 18-34 prime-time viewers throughout the calendar year, he said. That can lead lucrative news, sports and entertainment partnerships with major media players such as CNN and ESPN also seeking to capitalize on Spanish-language growth.

"With the economic recovery underway and Hispanic population growing, Univision's future is incredibly bright. Broadcast TV is here to stay as the place where core content brands and advertising relationships are built out to mobile, online and other interactive media," Falco said.

He will report to Univision president and CEO Joe Uva, formerly president and CEO of OMD Worldwide. Univision was taken private in 2007 by Broadcasting Media Partners, an investor group that includes Thomas H. Lee Partners, Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners and Saban Capital Group, despite shareholder lawsuits.

At the time of his unceremonious departure from AOL, Falco said: "I don't think there are too many traditional media guys who really understood what the new digital media is about. Having spent two years at AOL, I would love to be able to go back to that industry knowing what I know, and I think I would be able to help the traditional media side to better understand what is coming at them -- how to deal with it. There are a lot of misconceptions about what to do about digital media."

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