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Univision Sees Q2 Profit Rise, New CEO Outlines Investment Priorities

Univision Communications, which is in the midst of a major transition following the departure of CEO Randy Falco, reported Thursday a second-quarter profit of $114.3 million compared with a profit of $106.1 million in the year prior.

This was boosted in part by sales of some assets, lower employee costs, adjustments to share-based compensation as well as a reduced tax rate of 24% (compared to 37%) due to the federal tax reform legislation.

However, the U.S. Hispanic media giant’s second quarter revenue decreased 2% to $749.8 million from $764.9 million while its total core revenue dipped 3.1% to $730.3 million from $753.5 million. The company said advertising revenue was impacted by an “overall softness in ad spending.”

For the first time, Univision Communications Inc.’s new CEO Vincent Sadusky presided over the company’s earnings call, which was dominated by questions over the company’s ongoing carriage feud with Dish Network. Univision stations have been dark on Dish’s satellite TV platform since June 30.

“While our foundation is strong, Univision has gone through a significant amount of change over the last few months,” said Sadusky in his prepared remarks. “We are starting an exciting new chapter with a singular focus on our core business and mission: to inform, entertain and empower Hispanic America,” he added.

To that end, the company has made plans to sell its English- language websites Gizmodo Media Group and the Onion.

Noting that Univision has “under-invested” in its local stations, Sadusky said the new focus would be on them as well as its Spanish-language website and other digital offerings, including its app.

Univision has not been immune to pivotal changes in general audience viewing habits, which has led to a deep erosion of its primetime viewership. Per TV ratings firm Nielsen, Univision had 1.56 million primetime viewers in June 2018 compared to 3.39 million primetime viewers in 2011. Interest in telenovelas from its primetime programming supplier, Mexico’s Televisa, had also waned.

On Dish Network, Sadusky stood firm on the company’s rationale behind its carriage fee dispute with the satellite giant.

“Univision played a big role in the launch of [premium package] DishLATINO 20 years ago,” he pointed out, adding that Hispanics make up 20% of Dish’s overall subscriber base, driving the satellite giant’s Hispanic viewership. “We don’t think we’re being unreasonable,” he said.

After Dish and Univision failed to come to terms on a contract renewal, more than 60 Univision-owned stations and cable channels, including UniMás and Galavision, were pulled from Dish’s pay-TV platforms on June 30.

Dish has since indicated that this may be permanent and offered a $5 monthly credit to its DishLATINO and Sling Latino package subscribers starting in August.

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