Univision CEO On Upfront, Slimmed Down Pay TV Packages

Associated Press

Randy Falco is also asked about cable consolidation.

Univision Communications CEO Randy Falco on Friday discussed the outlook for the upfront advertising sales season, skinny pay TV packages and TV streaming services, such as Dish's Sling TV. 

On a conference call following the company's first-quarter financial report, which showed a $137.1 million loss, He was asked about his expectations for the upfront. Falco said the Spanish-language media company's ratings and offerings position it well for the upfront market. "We still expect to do okay in the upfront versus the English-language side," he said, adding that it looks like advertisers continue to feel they have choices and are slow to come into "an auction like the upfront" and spend more time putting money in the scatter market.

Falco, for example, said that Univision's second-quarter scatter ad revenue is pacing up 20 percent, which he said was a sign that the scatter market was "pretty healthy." Overall, he said the upfront "looks like it is going to be a little bit more of the same" as last year.

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Based on things he has read and heard, Falco said "it feels like the English-language side of the business in the upfront is going to have a lot of pressure on it." He said forecasts call for a slight ad volume decline in the upfront for them. "Historically, we have outperformed the English-language market by about 500 basis points by virtue of the fact that we continue to grow our advertising base," Falco said. "We are still behind the English-language side of the business in terms of total advertisers and brands that we do business with. So, we are still on a growth trajectory."

Asked about slimmed-down bundles that some pay TV operators have been selling to serve consumers who can't afford full packages, Falco said such offers are "a wonderful thing for a must-have network like Univision," which has been invited to be part of them. What about all the new over-the-top services, such as Sling TV, of which Univision is a part? Interim CFO Peter Lori said that over-the-top services could help Univision reach new audiences.

Now that the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal has been abandoned, would Univision be more in favor of a Charter-TWC deal than the failed combination, about which it had expressed concerns? "I don’t want us to comment on something that is speculative," Falco said. But Lori said he would not have the same kind of concerns as Univision had about the Comcast deal and the resulting concentration of pay TV homes.

Twitter: @georgszalai

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