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How Univision Chief Expects New Census Data to Boost Its Advertising Revenue

Joe Uva tells THR that with the U.S. Hispanic population expected to surpass 50 million, more companies will begin marketing on Spanish-language media.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- Univision, already the dominant Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S., is about to get a big boost from the U.S. Census.

Univision president and CEO Joe Uva told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview at NATPE that he expects the U.S. Hispanic population to surpass 50 million, or about one-quarter of all Americans, when the census data is announced in March. That number was 35.6 million a decade ago and 44.6 million in 2006.

"We believe we are on the threshold of a sea change in terms of share of advertising," Uva said, "moving away from English-language media to Spanish-language media and to Univision in particular."

Uva noted Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population and will continue to be so for the coming decade.

"That's a combination of not only immigration but the birth rate," Uva added. "Today, one in four babies in this country are born to a Hispanic family. In Texas and California, one in two births are Hispanic."

Even more importantly, Uva said, "Hispanics today control $1 trillion worth of consumer-purchasing power, which if it were a stand-alone country would rank as the 14th-largest consumer economy in the world ... even in the face of the recession."

On some days, Univision already outranks most English-language channels in total audience, and Uva expects the census data to help him drive that message home to advertisers.

"What it means for us is if you're a marketer today," Uva said, "and it doesn't matter what you're selling, you had better have a strategy for engaging with the Hispanic community because it is the only place you can get organic growth. The numbers tell you that. The economic growth engine tells you that."

Uva also touted the deal in September with Televisa Group, which includes a supply a telenovelas beyond 2017, an investment of $1.2 billion (which cut Univision's debt significantly) and the right to market Televisa's library on digital for the first time.

"There is an insatiable appetite for all things Televisa on all platforms, and this will be a growth engine for us in terms of allowing us to do more things in that digital space," Uva said. "It will also allow us to do things on linear platforms, maybe some new linear networks, maybe some new broadband networks, maybe some new mobile services. We feel very good about our position and the fact we have all this content."

Former NBC and AOL executive Randy Falco recently joined Univision as COO with the goal of restructuring the company to prepare for this expected growth.

Falco will "head up all of our commercial operations and drive all of our revenue sources," Uva said. "One of Randy's tasks will be to look at corporate business development. While we were under such a heavy debt load, it was an area we didn't concentrate on because we wanted to maintain our core strength in our networks and in our television station group and existing online and mobile properties. But the time is right. We've now restructured our balance sheet. We have a clear runway ahead of us."

Univision also announced at NATPE that its TeleFutura network (one of five it operates) has launched an on-demand service to provide access to programming, including primetime novellas.