Executive Suite: Joe Uva
At the end of the summer, Univision beat all other broadcast networks for the week in primetime in the adults 18-49 demographic. Univision Communications CEO Joe Uva, a second-
generation Italian-American running the nation’s largest Spanish-language broadcaster, discusses his company’s growth opportunities and competition.
How good is your Spanish now, and is it a requirement that your employees speak the language?
(Laughs.) It’s improving. I can understand what I read. I can understand more than half of what I hear. And I am working with my Rosetta Stone to improve my speaking. We are focused on attracting and retaining the best talent in the industry, and we are fortunate to be able to attract professionals with diverse backgrounds, many who are bilingual and bicultural.
Was that ratings win a fluke or a sign of things
It got the attention of a lot of people and changed the conversation for us. For the first time, English-language broadcast networks took notice. We don’t believe it was a fluke when you look at the sheer growth in the U.S. Hispanic population and how our programming continues to deliver increases in audiences, while English-language broadcast networks continue to see their audience erode. Within three to five years, we have the very real potential to become the No. 1-ranked network in this country in primetime against the 18-to-49 demographic on a consistent basis.
Do agents and other “mainstream” media types pitch you more now?
I would argue that we are part of the mainstream, competing against our English-language counterparts in every platform. That is why we are seeing increased interest from companies across the media landscape interested in Spanish-language media.
Other media companies also have looked to target Hispanics. Does that concern you?
A portion of the Hispanic population in this country does consume English-language media. However, even English-dominant people continue to seek out high-quality Spanish-language programming, especially the Univision network. And 67 percent of the Univision audience in primetime is unduplicated. That means that two-thirds of Hispanics watching Univision in primetime are not watching anything else.
Comcast soon will own NBC Universal, which has your competitor, Telemundo.
Any concerns that Telemundo will be a
Comcast is a very well-managed, very well-run organization. We know that they will more aggressively manage the assets of NBC Universal than General Electric did. Comcast is a very important customer of ours as well. However, given our current position and ranking, combined with the recent Televisa agreement [which makes the Mexican broadcaster a Univision investor again in return for expanded and extended programming rights], we have a unique advantage.
You made peace with longtime rival Televisa. Why was that important?
The new Televisa agreement is really a game-changer for Univision. When the deal closes, we will have an infusion of $1.2 billion of capital, which we will use to pay down some of our debt. And we will have expanded and extended access to Televisa’s content. Those extended rights will unlock the potential of this company in a way it hasn’t been unlocked before. Because, in addition to expanded television rights, we will also have unrestricted and unlimited rights to the Televisa TV library and audiovisual content — with limited exceptions — on new-media platforms including online, mobile and video-on-demand. And with 70 percent of U.S. Hispanics being Mexican-American, there is an appetite for all things Televisa.
What is your top-rated show and why?