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Univision Posts Q1 Loss as Spanish-Language Giant Preps for IPO

Univision Communications’ first-quarter financials for the period ending March 31 revealed a $139.7 million net loss compared to a profit of $6.2 million a year ago.

Net revenue rose 0.6% to $624.7 million from $621 million during the same period in 2014. Univision attributed its first-quarter loss in part to termination fees allotted to its private equity owners and Mexican partner Grupo Televisa as it prepares for an IPO.

Current private equity owners include Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, Saban Capital Group, TPG Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, which acquired the Spanish-language media company in 2006. Univision has yet to spell out detailed plans for a public offering.

Univision CEO Randy Falco noted that El Rey Network, founded by helmer Robert Rodriguez and in which it is an investor, is now on all major cable and satellite providers, while its youth-skewed, multiplatform, English-language network Fusion, a joint venture with Disney/ABC TV Group, “continues to disrupt the media landscape and interact with viewers across all platforms.” Sports cable network Univision Deportes recently inked a multiyear pact with the NBA.

With the upfront selling season around the corner, discussion on the conference call Friday centered on advertising. Falco pointed out that 90% of Univision’s 18-49 primetime viewers watch TV live compared to 55% for its English-language counterparts.

“Historically, we have outperformed the English-language market by about 500 basis points by virtue of the fact that we continue to grow our advertising base,” Falco said. “We are still behind the English-language side of the business in terms of total advertisers and brands that we do business with. So, we are still on a growth trajectory,” he added, pointing to an “alarming” slump in auto retail advertising in general.

Acknowledging the shift to multimedia platforms and the general movement of ad dollars from linear to digital, Univision recently inked deals with Dish Network’s OTT service Sling TV and Hulu, although the bulk of its viewers still watch TV over the air. But the future trends are clear as U.S. Hispanics are overindexing on the use of handheld devices, Falco said.

(Pictured: Univision CEO Randy Falco)

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