“Here’s one thing you’re not going to hear this week: Our linear business is on fire,” ad sales and marketing chief Donna Speciale said. She pointed to 7% growth across the company’s portfolio, and 18% at its flagship broadcast network, maintaining, “Everyone else is either flat or declining.”
At the same time, TelevisaUnivision has made several moves in streaming, acquiring assets and positioning itself with a two-tiered new service, the free Vix and subscription Vix+. “We didn’t need to turn to streaming to save our TV business,” Speciale said. “We saw an opportunity.”
Last January, Univision and Grupo Televisa closed their $4.8 billion combination, which saw the media assets of Televisa come under Univision’s control and a number of prominent minority investors enter the fold. Univision had been taken private back in 2007, in a $13.7 billion deal in 2007 led by media billionaire Haim Saban.
Former Viacom CFO Wade Davis now runs TelevisaUnivision as CEO and led the winning bid for Univision, and has taken steps to stabilize the ship. Among the cable TV vets recruited to the new company’s management ranks is Speciale, who formerly headed sales at Turner.
Speciale earned the heartiest applause of the upfront presentation, taking part in a video segment in which she gamely learned to salsa dance from two on-screen pros. “That shows you the value of being able to trust a partner,” she said.
Sebastián Yatra, known for singing “Dos Oruguitas,” one of the songs on the chart-topping soundtrack of Disney’s Oscar-winning animated film Encanto, closed the event with a medley.