U.S. Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications revealed a dip in profits during the first quarter ending March 31, 2017, as it reported a net income of $58.1 million, compared to $66.7 million over the same time frame last year. The company was impacted by a $9.5 million after-tax loss on the reduction of its debt.
In an industry call led by CEO Randy Falco who did not discuss the timing of a long-pending IPO, Univision CFO Frank Lopez-Balboa pointed out a soft ad market as one of the factors behind Univision’s 7.9 percent decline in ad revs to $395.3 million.
“The overall advertising market is weak, you’ve heard that from most people in the industry, so it’s not a specific thing to us,” said Lopez-Balboa.
Ad buys from the auto, consumer products and telecommunications categories were particularly down while Univision’s non-ad revs, including carriage fees and content licensing, grew 28.5 percent to $297.3 million.
“We continue to grow our estimated average monthly unduplicated media consumer reach, which increased by 34 percent to 108 million in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, reflecting our strategy of expanding our digital footprint,” said Falco. “We gained audience share in nearly every day part during the quarter and our flagship network was the # 1 Spanish language network for the quarter and in the February Sweeps,” he said, adding: “This momentum has continued into the May Sweeps as we continue to widen the gap between us and our competition headed into the Upfront.”
Univision’s programming expenses rose by 28.5 percent to $146.4 million in the first quarter compared to 2016 first quarter costs of $113.9 million due to its increased investments in content, encompassing entertainment, sports and news. The programming boost is aimed to complement primetime content acquired from its longtime supplier, Televisa, a majority shareholder.