MORELIA, Mexico — After 20 years at the helm, Televisa CEO Emilio Azcarraga Jean has agreed to step down by the end of the year, yet another casualty of the major changes buffeting linear television worldwide.
With its programming staple, the telenovela, no longer drawing massive viewership, rating shares and ad revenues have eroded at Televisa. Viewing habits have fragmented with many shifting to OTTs led by Netflix while Televisa’s own fledgling streaming service Blim lags far behind the OTT behemoth, reported to have a 64 percent share of the market.
YouTube and other programming on the internet are also grabbing more millennial eyeballs in this new era. “Our industry is undergoing a massive transformation, presenting us with big challenges, but even bigger opportunities,” said Azcarraga in a statement.
In his first post-resignation interview with Mexican paper El Universal, Azcarraga denied that his decision to quit had anything to do with his health and that it had been a year and half in planning. He said that plans include further expansion in the U. S. where it has been allowed by the FCC to further grow its stake -to a cap of 40% – in leading Spanish-language broadcaster Univision. Televisa has long been a major programming provider to Univision.
Since Univision Chief Content Officer Isaac Lee and his team took over Televisa’s content division in January, a major revamp has been implemented in programming strategy and focus. However, visible ratings gains, especially at its flagship network Las Estrellas, has yet to translate in boosted ad revenues. The plan is to have close content development and programming strategy ties with Univision, which has been facing stiff competition from its closest rival, Telemundo. By doing so, they hope to jointly address an audience of some 175 million people in the U.S. and Mexico.
As Televisa’s largest shareholder, Azcarraga remains as chairman of the board while his trusted lieutenants Alfonso de Angoitia and Bernardo Gomez, who helped him revamp the company 20 years ago when it was floundering after his father’s demise, will share chief executive officer duties. The company operates four broadcast networks, 15 cable networks, and a digital operation, where it has been devoting more resources to expansion.