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Execs: Univision to increase 2020 subscriber fees on recent carriage renewals

Putting the extended disconnect with DISH Network Corp. behind it, Univision Communications Inc. reached renewal deals with other distributors that will lead to carriage-fee increases next year, executives said on an Aug. 14 earnings call.

Following the reinstatement of its programming on DISH platforms, the Spanish-league media company has "renewed agreements in the normal course of business with several significant distribution partners at increased rates," Univision CEO Vincent Sadusky said.

He did not disclose those affiliates.

Subscriber fees decreased 5.9% to $263.3 million during the quarter ended June 30, down from $279.6 million in the year-ago quarter.

CFO Peter Lori said the drop reflected the "pronounced subscriber declines" experienced with DISH due to the nine-month blackout and other "normal" subscriber losses. In turn, distribution revenue will benefit from significant subscriber rate hikes in the renewed contract with DISH and other distributors. Lori said the rate increases Univision secured through the recent distributor renewals will take effect early in 2020.

Sadusky also touted the upcoming launch of soccer platform TUDNxtra, a subscriber-authenticated service that will enable Univision viewers to watch additional matches from the company's soccer portfolio, including games from UEFA Champions and Europa Leagues that do not air on linear outlets, including UEFA qualifying matches.

The service will launch in mid-September at no additional cost to subscribers and will feature English-translated contests from Liga MX, Mexico's top soccer circuit. TUDNxtra will also showcase a Red Zone-style offering around top goals from the attendant matches.

Univision on July 20 relaunched its multiplatform sports media brand and leading cable sports network Univision Deportes as TUDN (US). TUDN simultaneously debuted in Mexico as part of a collaboration between Univision and Grupo Televisa SAB.

A Univision spokesman said the company had reached accords with several major distributors for TUDNxtra and is working toward additional carriage deals.

Sadusky did not provide an update on the board and management's decision in early July to explore strategic options. However, he did call out Univision's leadership position with a 53% share of U.S. Spanish-language viewing, the growing clout of the Hispanic consumer and mid-single-digit price increases on ads that marked its best upfront selling season in four years.

Closing the session with analysts with a pitch, Sadusky called Univision "the best growth opportunity at scale in America when it comes to media." He added, "And I do think, even if the timing may not be perfect for certain folks, you've got to give this thing a good hard look because this is the last opportunity for this asset to trade."

During the second quarter ended June 30, Univision reported a 4.0% decline in revenues to $701.7 million, down from $730.9 million in the 2018 period.

Media networks advertising revenue decreased 2% to $347.2 million, owing to declines in television advertising revenue, partially offset by higher digital advertising revenue.

Nonadvertising media networks revenues, comprising contributions from subscriber fees, content licensing and other revenues, dropped 6.2% to $292.8 million, driven in part by the decline in subscriber-fee revenue.

Radio revenue slipped 4.6% to $61.7 million.

Second-quarter income from continuing operations declined to $92.0 million from $121.3 million. Results in the most recent period included restructuring and severance charges of $4.4 million and an impairment loss of $1.0 million. This was partly offset by other income of $3.1 million, primarily from noncash fair-value adjustments to investments.

The prior-year performance reflected restructuring and severance charges of $14.7 million and a noncash impairment loss of $9.1 million, partly offset by other income of $17.2 million, primarily from noncash fair-value adjustments to investments.

Net income attributable to Univision and subsidiaries was $90.7 million, down from $114.3 million in the 2018 period.