Univision Posts Revenue Bump as Ad Spending Increases

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Univision Headquarters in Los Angeles, California.

Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications, which late last year sold a majority stake to an investor group led by former Viacom CFO Wade Davis, reported higher fourth-quarter revenue despite the coronavirus pandemic as its media networks unit returned to advertising growth thanks to political spending.

The company posted a fourth-quarter loss from continuing operations of $39.1 million, compared with a year-ago profit of $93.9 million. Quarterly adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA), another profitability metric, fell 1 percent to $228.6 million.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 4 percent to $722.9 million, with Univision's media networks unit recording a 10 percent advertising increase to $373.5 million after an 11 percent drop in the third quarter. But media networks core advertising revenue, which adjusts for political and advocacy ads, including the 2020 election, fell 6 percent after an 18 percent drop in the third quarter.

Media networks unit non-advertising revenue, including carriage fees and content licensing, rose slightly from $286.5 million to $286.8 million. Subscriber fee revenue fell 1 percent, "primarily due to subscriber losses largely offset by rate increases." Content licensing and other revenue increased though.

"Univision finished the year delivering impressive operating and financial results and positioning it to begin fully realizing the power of our continuing role as the leading Spanish-language media company in the U.S.," said Univision CEO Davis. "This is an exciting time for the company as our audience continues to be at the cultural, economic and political core of America. The strength of our brand and the resonance of our content was reflected by the fact that our portfolio delivered the fastest ratings growth of any media company during primetime in 2020 among total viewers 2+, adults 18-49 and adults 18-34."

He added: "In fact, we delivered meaningful year-over-year audience growth in primetime among the key adults 18-49 demographic while the major English-language broadcast networks and our closest Spanish-language competitor all reported audience declines."

And Davis said: "We are carrying this momentum into 2021 and we will begin unlocking the enormous potential of Univision. We expect to drive meaningful near-term growth by optimizing our core businesses and at the same time we will be evolving for the future by investing in our people, content, products and platforms to capture the huge and growing market opportunity to serve Spanish speakers across the U.S."

Univision recently acquired VIX, the indie ad-supported streaming service offering video-on-demand content to Hispanic audiences in the U.S. and across Latin America.

This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.