Falco has been at the helm of the Spanish-language media giant since 2011. The company has significantly expanded and diversified its TV and digital operations on his watch.
News of Falco’s extension came as Univision reported robust gains for the third quarter, with earnings of $104 million compared to a prior year loss of $30.5 million.
Univision’s Q3 revenue increased 5.9% to $778.2 million as pro forma core advertising revenue dipped 8.7%, partially as a result of the hurricanes that impacted Houston, Miami and Puerto Rico. All its markets are now operational except for Puerto Rico, which could see losses of up to $10 million, said Falco.
Non-ad revenue, including subscriber fee, content licensing and other contractual revenue, grew 20.1%.
Univision chairman Haim Saban credited Falco with “steadily improving Univision’s financial performance and significantly improving the balance sheet by paying down debt.” He praised Falco’s drive to extend Univision’s reach into English-language content and his “authentic and unwavering commitment to the U.S. Hispanic community, which has amplified (Univision’s) voice and purpose as an advocate for Hispanic America, especially during difficult times for our nation.”
On the earnings call with analysts, Falco also noted Univision’s debt-reduction efforts. “We continued to reduce our debt and improve our capital structure, highlighted by our $721 million net debt reduction year to date,” said Falco.
During the past few years, Univision has acquired a host of digital content properties, including the Root, the Onion, Deadspin, Jezebel, Gizmodo, the A.V. Club, and Jalopnik. It also launched the Fusion cabler and partnered with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez on the El Rey Network.
But Univision has had some struggles of late. The core broadcast network has seen its ratings dominance in primetime steadily chipped away by rival Telemundo, which has prospered thanks to increased investment in programming and sports rights from parent NBCUniversal.
Univision has been in the process of revamping its entertainment strategy, adding three original content sources — StoryHouse, W Studios and Univision Studios — to complement programming from its long-time supplier, Mexico’s Televisa. Programming from Televisa is also undergoing a sea change as Univision’s Chief Content Officer Isaac Lee and his team began to oversee both Televisa and Univision programming in January. Emilio Azcarraga Jean, who ran the family business founded by his father for 20 years, will resign at the year’s end although he remains as chairman of the board and a majority shareholder of Televisa.
Thanks to the “El Chapo” series from its premium content division StoryHouse, Univision has seen double-digit increases on Sunday night audiences, according to Falco.
“Going forward, we are very focused on building drama and comedy franchises that extend over multiple seasons, both with Televisa content as well as through our own studios,” he said in a conference call with investors, adding: “Our sports and news programming continue to fire on all cylinders; we reinforced our position as the home of soccer in the U.S. with the successful Gold Cup tournament and launch of the new Liga MX season.”
Univision had also been pursuing an initial public offering that has been delayed more than once during the past few years. Of late there has been speculation about Televisa taking a larger stake possibly in partnership with media mogul John Malone. Saban Group acquired Univision with a group of private equity giants, including Providence Equity and TPG, for $11 billion in 2006.