Univision Struggles Could Lead to Lowest Revenue in Its History

Univision’s owners continue to struggle finding an easy footing as the company tries moving forward.

The company, that already just went through two failed attempts at an initial public offering and a faces a rival in Telemundo that’s exceeding, the five private equity owners of the once-dominant Spanish language broadcaster are now faced with a brutal carriage dispute and a forecast that revenue next year will decline 4 percent, its largest downturn ever, The New York Post reports.

A leading Univision lender said he is forecasting a 4 percent revenue drop in 2019, which comes after it was flat this year, according to The New York Post.

The decline is could increase pressure on the overleveraged media company.

The pressure to increase revenue is likely one reason for the carriage-fee standoff with Dish, according to The New York Post.

The pay-TV distributor dropped Univision on June 30 when a fee agreement couldn’t be reached, according to The New York Post.

Univision’s owners, Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, TPG Capital, THL Partners and Haim Saban, may also try raising money by selling off some assets, The New York Post reports.

The Big Apple-based company is considering the sale of Fusion Media Group, which includes Gizmodo and Deadspin, according to The New York Post.

The unit, pieced together in separate purchases in 2016, was supposed to be Univision’s growth engine.

As the five private equity owners try to sort out the mess, rival Telemundo, owned by Comcast’s NBCUniversal, continues to see its primetime numbers increase, thanks in large part to new, saucier novelas that are appealing to a younger audience, according to The New York Post.

Univision once led Telemundo in the ratings game by a wide margin. The channel lost the coveted 18-to-49 demo during prime time for the week of June 18-24, according to Nielsen, averaging a 0.5 rating to Univision’s 0.

At the same time, Telemundo the World Cup is helping to bolster Telemundo’s daytime ratings to all-time highs. Telemundo can broadcast the games because it outbid Univision for the rights to the 2018 and 2022 soccer tournaments.

The struggle is not what the five private equity holders had hoped for when they bought Univision for $13.7 billion in 2007.

“This is a poster child of a club deal gone wrong,” a source who was close to Univision’s owners told The Post, referring to when multiple buyout players own the same company.

Providence and THL Partners wanted a quick flip, while Madison Dearborn and TPG wanted to expand the business for at least five years, the source said.

“If everybody’s in charge, nobody is in charge,” the source said.

Any two of the firms, besides Saban, can stop significant moves, the source said.

The PE firms tried to sell Univision in 2014 at a $20 billion valuation and received no takers.

“The five partners could not agree on a [reduced] price,” the source said.

The Univision lender believes the network is worth $11.5 billion, not much more than its $8 billion in debt.

Univision and the PE firms declined to comment.

By: Nick Lazar

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