Univision May Launch New Nets, TV Net Revs Up 17%

Uva

Following an expanded programming agreement with Televisa, Univision is exploring the launch of several new Spanish-language networks, including a novela channel. It may also import Televisa networks in Mexico and Latin America to the U.S. and perhaps debut a sports outlet, CEO Joe Uva said.

Uva did not provide specifics on a conference call Thursday, except to say he expects a novela channel to be in "high demand." Univision CFO Andy Hobson said the company plans to invest $20 million to $30 million to back new networks and ramp up its sales and research capabilities.

Uva was not clear on whether Univision would pursue broadcast distribution -- although that seems unlikely except as a digital multicast network. Pay cable is a possibility, as are online-only networks.

Televisa provides novelas to Univision, which was the subject of litigation until a settlement was reached last year. The deal could extend past 2025.

In sports, Univision has recently acquired rights to the Mexican national team games. In 2010, Univision carried the World Cup, helping it post strong results. But even excluding the World Cup, other major soccer events and political dollars, Univision's TV division had net revenue up 11.3%.

Uva indicated on an earnings call that he expects continued growth this year, with the 2010 upfront yielding 14% organic growth, where the company "significantly eclipsed our competitors."

Results of the U.S. Census showing population growth among Hispanics should also attract more ad dollars. Looking to capitalize, Univision plans to ramp up in sales and research operations.

TV operations include the flagship network and TeleFutura, cable network Galavisión and a slew of local stations. The company recently hired former NBC Universal executive Randy Falco to lead the businesses.

Overall, TV net revenue was up 16.7% to more than $1.8 billion in 2010. Yet even with political dollars, radio net revenues dropped by more than $15 million to $323.2 million. Interactive net revenue for the year rose from about $41 million to $63 million. Company-wide in 2010, OIBDA was $943.3 million, up about $120 million.

Not surprisingly, Uva said Univision is expecting significant growth in political ad dollars in 2012 at its local TV and radio stations as President Obama runs for reelection. There are also open Senate seats in Arizona and Texas and re-election campaigns in California and Florida.

Political money is "a major initiative and focus for the ad sales team across all platforms ... we are ramping up our capabilities to be able to capture our fair share," Uva said of 2012.

 

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