Univision Discusses Cable Partnerships, TV Biz Up

A month after Univision landed its first distribution deal for its three forthcoming cable networks, the company said it is in discussions with other potential operators and expects to conclude arrangements. 

Dish Network broke the ice with a January deal to carry the sports, news and telenovela outlets as part of a package targeting Hispanics. The deal gives it exclusive rights for a second sports channel. The networks are targeted for an April 1 debut.

Univision declined comment on reports about a partnership with ABC News.

Somewhat dispiriting for Univision’s local station business, even with the increased importance of the Hispanic electorate, the company’s stations -- save Florida -- are not located in the most hotly contested areas. “Unfortunately, the swing states don’t line up well with our stations,” said CFO Andy Hobson on an earnings call.

The campaign, however, could evolve to boost its stations in Philadelphia, Phoenix and Raleigh. Univision said it is investing in a political ad sales force.



Univision CEO Randy Falco addressed the upcoming national upfront market -- suggesting it is early to gain more than general visibility -- but ratings growth should help, particularly in the 18-to-49 demo, where 70% of the dollars are committed. Also, ad sales in the second quarter -- the one before the upfront bazaar -- look promising. 

Overall, Univision reported that its television business, which includes several networks and local stations, posted an 8.6% revenue increase in the fourth quarter to $516.8 million.

An increase at the local station business marked a sharp reversal from the double-digit percentage declines in the first three quarters of 2011.

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