Spanish-lingo giant sees momentum from network ratings, cable launches

Univision Communications’s third quarter net revenues rose 10.1% to $692.7 million from $628.9 million in 2012, it reported Thursday. Among its various units, TV revenues grew; radio was flat and digital revs dropped.

News comes just days before the Monday launch of Univision’s latest venture, Fusion, aimed at bilingual millennials. Network created in partnership with ABC will feature “news and lifestyle [programming] with an accent,” quipped Univision prexy and CEO Randy Falco in a conference call today. Fusion launches to an initial 20 million homes and is projected to reach double that by the end of 2014, said Falco.

El Rey, another new network that Univision has invested in, is aiming for a soft launch in December via Comcast. The English-language Hispanic cable network from helmer Robert Rodriguez and John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa’s FactoryMade Ventures will debut original programs by late March, per Falco. Univision will handle the back-office operations, sales and distribution of the network. A recent multi-year distribution accord with Time Warner Cable includes El Rey.

Higher expenses in the third quarter have led to a $15.9 million loss compared to a $10.6 million profit in the same period last year. Adjusting operating income grew 9.2% to $301.8 million.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2013, net revenue increased 9.1% to $1.9 billion from $1.7 billion in 2012. 

On the ratings front, Univision marked a milestone this summer when it notched the top spot among 18-49 and 18-34 demos during the July sweep. Sister channel UniMas’ daytime programming continued to outperform in all key demos against the combined ratings of rivals including Azteca America, Estrella TV and MundoFox. Galavision outpaced all Spanish language cable networks by double-digit percentages in the Adult 18-49 demo.

Meanwhile, Univision Radio saw some advertiser defections after the ouster of popular talk show host Piolin, who has since joined Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

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