Vincent Sadusky, CEO of Univision Communications, talks to World Screen about Univision’s content across platforms and the value they deliver advertisers and viewers of all ages.
Since becoming CEO of Univision Communications in June 2018, Vincent Sadusky has focused on strengthening the connection the Spanish-language media group has had for decades with the Hispanic community in the U.S. Univision reaches Hispanics through a portfolio that includes two broadcast networks, Univision and UniMás; 11 cable networks; 65 local TV stations; 58 radio stations and several digital assets, including a website and a Hispanic influencer network. Under Sadusky’s leadership, the company has sold off its English-language assets, including the Gizmodo Media Group, and focused instead on Spanish-speaking viewers and listeners on all platforms. He has invested in local stations and increased newscasts, apps and podcasts.
WS: When you joined Univision, what were the strengths of the company, and how have you been building on them?
SADUSKY: This company has an unparalleled special connection with our audience built on trust. Today, we are more committed than ever to strengthening this connection by remaining singularly focused on growing our core business and on delivering on our mission of informing, entertaining and empowering Hispanic America. Univision is the best multimedia company focused on U.S. Hispanic audiences. We have a unique portfolio of television, radio and digital assets with tremendous value—no other media company in English or Spanish can compare.
Over the past 18 months, Univision has gained momentum as we’ve strengthened our programming to feature more diverse and dynamic storylines and increased investment in news, sports, local and digital offerings.
WS: What did you feel needed to be changed or improved? What motivated the sale of Gizmodo Media Group and other English-language assets?
SADUSKY: It was clear to me when I first joined the company that there had been a lot of change over the last few years. Like many great companies, Univision experimented with new paths of growth—some worked, and some did not. The sale of the English-language properties was part of our broader strategic realignment and return to our core strengths in Hispanic media and marketing.
WS: Univision reported strong third-quarter financial results. What drove these revenue increases?
SADUSKY: In the third quarter, our continued focus on our core business contributed to growth in advertising and subscription revenue. Brands and distribution partners are responding favorably to our focused approach—our renewed commitment to improving our core operations and strengthening the connection to our viewers through our world-class entertainment, sports and news content. In fact, thanks to the strength of our content slate, our portfolio beat the nearest competitor by 60 percent in Spanish-language prime time in the 2019 broadcast season.
WS: How have you diversified the sources of Univision’s programming?
SADUSKY: Univision’s content strategy, which is based on years of audience research and insights, is centered around a three-pronged approach that includes world-class live events and reality-competition shows from Univision Studios; acquisitions of successful formats from partners from around the world, including Brazil and Turkey; and high-quality shows and dramas from our ongoing partnership with Televisa. With respect to Televisa, our relationship is based in collaboration—from working together to understand Hispanic audiences in the U.S. to developing content that is relevant and authentic to this audience as it grows and evolves. One example of how we work together is ensuring that popular reality shows like Pequeños Gigantes, Reto 4 Elementos and Inseparables include contestants from cities throughout the U.S. and from diverse Hispanic nationalities. Combined, this approach has allowed us to deliver fresh storylines and dynamic shows that are family-friendly, aspirational and reflect the multiple layers of the Hispanic experience.
WS: How is Univision serving viewers, including young bilingual Hispanics, on different platforms?
SADUSKY: In addition to innovating with our content, storytelling and formats across entertainment, sports and news, we’ve built a strong digital strategy that leverages multiple platforms to meet the needs of our increasingly digitally connected audience. Through Univision.com, which is the number one publisher for Hispanic America, and our social footprint that reaches 285 million fans and followers, we have created unique ways to engage with our audience, delivering compelling content on all their favorite devices.
We’ve also been making a concerted effort to give our audience the news and information they need to stay informed throughout the day and wherever they might be, from their home TV to their mobile phone and their favorite social media platform. We’re using our digital and social platforms to bring our audiences closer to the election than ever before, for example, by featuring major presidential candidates on our Instagram series and hosting DMs with the candidates, where topics ranged from hard-hitting political issues to favorite karaoke songs.
WS: What does Univision offer advertisers? What are the strengths of broadcast networks and local stations?
SADUSKY: Univision is the fifth most-watched broadcast network, alongside ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX, and has been number one in Spanish-language television for 27 consecutive seasons. But unlike the Big Four, our audience is markedly live and unduplicated in the marketplace. We serve a community of 61 million strong with quality news and information, entertainment, sports and live events, and are number one among Hispanics in every daypart, on every platform: number one in TV, number one in audio and number one in digital.
When we examine prime-time viewership, we find that nearly 90 percent of our audience consumes our programming in real-time, compared to a combined average of 65 percent for the Big Four broadcast networks. And, our audience is largely unduplicated, meaning that we provide access to millions of untapped consumers that are the key driving growth for brands. These figures are striking since our core audience represents the single biggest consumer growth driver in this country among key consumer categories.
Our increased investment in news is a major component in the expansion of our core business, which starts in local communities, where we have a number one or number two local news telecast in each of our top ten markets, and added news broadcasts this year in six markets.
We also have the benefit of the leading Hispanic radio network in the country, which in the third quarter saw stations rank number one during total week in top cities like Miami, Houston, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Phoenix and others, among the coveted 18-to-49 demo.
All in all, no other company offers clients a more trusted connection to the young and growing Hispanic community than Univision. In fact, our recent Upfront was the strongest in four years, in part driven by our ability to offer our clients scale across our portfolio of broadcast, cable, digital, social, local television and radio stations, live events and more. We’ve accomplished this largely due to Univision Brand Labs, an end-to-end solution to help empower marketers, whether they are at square one with Hispanics or have been doing it for years.
WS: Do you plan on expanding Univision NOW or offering additional direct-to-consumer products?
SADUSKY: No, we are focused on working with our MVPD and DMVPD partners to ensure our content is widely available. We think there’s a great opportunity with Hispanic consumers, so our priority continues to be growing our TV Everywhere offerings. To that end, we have recently launched two new sports services—TUDNxtra and Zona Fútbol—which, in partnership with our distributors, allow us to offer access to even more live soccer matches in conjunction with distribution partners at no additional cost to viewers—exciting content that can’t be found anywhere else.
WS: What prospects for growth do you see within the next 12 to 24 months?
SADUSKY: Univision is well-positioned for growth. We believe our diversified media portfolio and connection that we provide to one of the most coveted and fastest-growing segments of the U.S. provide us with a sustainable strategic advantage. We’re seeing the benefits of our investments and focus—from our prime-time ratings to our audience and revenue growth in our digital business. Furthermore, we had a strong advertising Upfront, and we have renewed many significant distribution deals for the next several years. Perhaps most importantly, more and more advertisers and distributors are recognizing that the Hispanic consumer will be one of the biggest drivers of growth for the next decade.