Univision Counts On Census For Ad Boost

Joe Uva of UnivisionExecutives at Spanish-language networks are hoping the Federal government will give them a boost come 2011. Both Univision and Telemundo are optimistic next year's U.S. Census will reveal significant population growth among Hispanics, persuading advertisers to shift more dollars their way.

Univision CEO Joe Uva said last week that the census results -- which should be available for networks to use in PowerPoint documents before the upfront two years from now -- "will be another catalyst for marketers to understand the impact of the Hispanic community."

Given the current economic environment, evidence of population increases would be welcome, although not necessarily easy to monetize. In the first quarter, Univision reported net revenue at its TV segment was down 7.7% (That number excludes dollars from political campaigns and some soccer events.)

Uva did say in a statement that the company was able to "outperform our English-language peers," although he did not provide details.

On the 2010 census front, Telemundo said three months ago that it would use its programs and other airtime to make viewers aware of the need to be counted next year, notably via message placement within telenovelas.

Nielsen data shows there are 43.3 million Hispanic TV homes -- 14.9% of the country's 212.5 million. (Uva said 78% of Hispanic Americans over the age of five consume Spanish-language media.)

Uva spoke about the potential benefits of the census on a conference call to discuss Univision's results for the January-March period. It was his first appearance on an earnings call with investors since taking the CEO post in 2007.

Casting ahead to this year's upfront, he said that while the landscape remains a wild card, "there are pockets" that could be bright spots. He was referring to the consumer packaged-goods category, particularly the food segment. That's expected to grow along with telecom.

When the economy recovers, Uva indicated Univision could experience growth by attracting more "high-end advertisers," noting the high-technology area and luxury automakers.

Overall, Univision saw TV revenues drop 8.7% to $336.3 million in 1Q; it does not break out results for its three networks or its local stations, which have struggled in line with the general market. Its radio business saw a drop from $90 million to $66.5 million.

As part of NBC Universal, Telemundo's results are not public.

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