Univision basks in bucks

Projected take estimated at $1.2 bil

U.S. Spanish-language giant Univision Networks is projected to take in up to 75% of the estimated $1.2 billion Hispanic primetime upfront this year, according to Wall Street analysts.

“They’ll probably pick up six to eight more advertisers this year,” said Philip Remek, senior equity analyst at Guzman & Co. Univision Networks (including sister nets Telefutura and Galavision) took in 70% of the Hispanic upfront’s overall of $1.1 billion in 2004, still a fraction of the $9.8 billion the big six English-lingo networks raked in.

Univision’s flagship station KMEX hosted its L.A. upfront presentation at the Getty Center last Wednesday night, while rival Telemundo’s L.A. upfront event is skedded for Wednesday at parent company Universal Studios’s Burbank headquarters.

“In the nine upfronts Univision has participated in, its number of advertisers has grown from 39 to the current 150,” said co-prexy of network sales, Tom McGarrity,  pointing out that the upcoming Latin Grammys and 2006 World Cup series on Univision are driving ad sales faster than usual. He sees a growing influx of wireless phone and pharmaceutical ads this year.

Company has noted an uptick in younger-skewing auds lured not only by its telenovelas but especially by its music variety specials, led by Premios Lo Nuestro and the Selena spec.

Just before the upfront began to roll out in May, Televisa, which supplies up to 90% of Univision’s primetime content, sued the broadcaster for $1.5 million in back royalties. Televisa’s chair-CEO Emilio Azcarraga Jean and exec VP Alfonso de Angoitia both resigned from the Univision board.

Univision, in turn, claimed it overpaid Televisa $5.2 million in royalties.

“They will settle,” Soleil Research analyst Marla Backer predicted. “Televisa does not solely drive Univision’s ratings as it claims. Univision’s ability to cross-promote their programs across their radio, music and online media is a major success factor too.”

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