Univision Reports Sharply Higher Sales

Riding the momentum of a rapidly expanding audience and strength in adults 18-34, Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications Inc. reported sharply higher revenues and profits in the fourth quarter.

Univision's revenues were up sharply in all areas in the three-month period ended Dec. 31. Its net revenues rose 44 percent from $284.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2002 to $408.1 million in 2003. Some of the revenue - $76.2 million - came from its radio unit, the former Hispanic Broadcasting, which was acquired near the end of the third quarter. But television revenues rose from $264.5 million to $295 million and Web-related revenues jumped from $4.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2002 to $6 million in 2003.

Net income soared 62 percent in the quarter, from $36.4 million in 2002 to $58.9 million in 2003.

The Los Angeles-based media company's most recognized property is the Univision Network and its owned and affiliated TV stations from in Hispanic centers around the United States. But it also owns two other TV networks, TeleFutura and Galavision, along with the 68 stations of Univision Radio, a record division and Univision Online. Univision reaches 98 percent of U.S. Hispanic households and has by far the leading market share of U.S. Hispanic viewing.

"2003 was a landmark year for Univision and Spanish-language media as a whole," Ray Rodriguez, president of Univision Television Networks, said in a conference call with Wall Street analysts Thursday night. He said that Univision had achieved tremendous success in Spanish-language media in the United States, with its audiences mirroring the overall Hispanic population: Predominantly young and affluent people who are increasingly bilingual but who prefer consuming media in their native language.

"Our community is loyal, prefers Spanish language entertainment and trusts Spanish-language information," he said.

The growth was particularly pronounced at the main network, Univision, which reached record fourth-quarter viewing levels in primetime and total day among various Hispanic demographics, including adults 18-34 and adults 18-49. Rodriguez noted that Univision delivered more key Hispanic demos - adults 18-34, adults 18-49, households and persons 2+ -- than ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox combined. Ratings grew 11 percent among adults 18-34 while English-language television viewing by adults 18-34 dropped 10 percent in the fourth quarter, he said.

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