Hispanic media giant Univision Communications posted a loss in the fourth quarter on a year-ago period profit as sales increased 4%.
The privately held company posted revenue of $ 722.9 million for the period, compared to $ 692.9 million and a loss from continuing operations of $ 39.1 million. For the same period a year ago, the company reported profits of $ 93.9 million.
Univision is under new management after a group of investors led by former Viacom CFO Wade Davis acquired a 64% stake for $ 526 million. The transaction, which closed last December, was a significant discount from its acquisition by a group of private equity firms in 2007. Mexico-based Televisa has retained the 36% stake it had during the previous Univision Regime had taken over.
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Davis, who now leads Univision as CEO, said in the earnings release that the company “achieved significant year-over-year audience growth in prime time.” These gains came at a time when “major English-speaking broadcast networks and our closest Spanish-speaking competitor were all reporting a decline in audience”.
The increased audience did not bring any corresponding advertising profits, at least in the short term. Aside from an inflow of $ 58.3 million in political spending during a record-breaking 2020 election cycle, the Media Networks division had a sluggish quarter. Covid-19 continued to affect business, reducing the division’s core advertising revenue by 6% to $ 315.2 million. In its earnings release, Univision identified automotive, media and entertainment, telecommunications, restaurants and financial services as the categories affected by the pandemic.
Non-commercial revenue from sources such as subscription fees and content licensing was unchanged at $ 286.8 million.
As of April 2020, the company implemented cost-saving measures that resulted in cost savings of USD 125 million compared to 2019. (Variable program license fees and recurring football rights costs aren’t part of those cuts, the company noted.) Further tightening of the belt could be ahead, the company warned. “Due to the evolving market conditions, additional measures may be necessary in 2021,” said the earnings announcement.