Back in early February, we wrote about a group featuring Searchlight Capital Partners and former Viacom executive Wade Davis trying to buy Univision. That deal was reached later in February, seeing Searchlight and ForgeLight LLC acquire 64 percent of Univision from an investment group, Davis taking over as CEO, Televisa retaining a 36 percent interest in Univision, and Univision retaining a program licensing agreement with Televisa. But the deal still needed FCC approval, which came last week (with the condition that Univision sell three TV stations servicing Puerto Rico). And it’s now been completed, as per a Univison release Tuesday. Here’s more from that release on what the company’s looking at next:
Wade Davis, media industry veteran and CEO and founder of ForgeLight, also assumed the role of Univision CEO, effective as of the closing of the transaction. Led by Davis and benefitting from his extensive expertise in managing the growth and transformation of large-scale media enterprises, Univision’s new leadership team plans to use the company’s extensive platform and strong pipeline of entertainment, sports and news content to deepen its relationship with the Hispanic community, one of the most important consumer groups in the United States. Building upon its established leadership in Spanish-language media, Univision will also seek new opportunities to innovate and accelerate growth by creating new market-defining content for the next generation of Hispanic viewers, expanding its portfolio of advertising products and enhancing its digital presence.
“I am honored to be partnering with Searchlight and Televisa to begin this exciting new era for Univision,” said Mr. Davis. “Televisa’s strategic insight and global content leadership, coupled with Searchlight’s tremendous experience as a long-term media investor, will help us fully realize Univision’s potential as the leading Hispanic content company in the United States. Univision’s recognized and trusted brand, its consistent performance, and its leadership serving an important and growing consumer audience give us an unmatched opportunity to achieve even greater success.”
…Bernardo Gomez and Alfonso de Angoitia, Co-Chief Executive Officers of Televisa, said: “We are excited to be part of this new phase of Univision. Wade’s leadership and Searchlight’s support are the catalysts that Univision needs to solidify its position as the leading Spanish-language media organization in the United States in light of the rapid changes that the industry is facing. We are looking forward to an even closer collaboration with Univision to help it implement the many transformational initiatives that Wade has set out to achieve. We would also like to thank Haim Saban for his leadership and dedication to Univision all these years.”
For the moment, it doesn’t seem like this will drastically change Univision’s direction on the sports front. There, they’ve done very well with their soccer coverage, including Liga MX and the UEFA Champions League (they were able to extend the latter deal for three further seasons in March). They’ve also posted good numbers for MMA promotion Combate Americas and other sports coverage. And while the new structure looks to have that “even closer collaboration” with Televisa, that collaboration has already been significant on the sports side, including with the 2019 launch of all-sports TUDN (a rebranding of Univision Deportes that features a closer partnership with Televisa’s TUDN in Mexico, including sharing programming and talent). Sports coverage has been a big part of Univision’s recent ratings success (they were ranked as the #1 U.S. primetime network regardless of language in the 18-34 demographic from May 25 to September 6), and it seems likely that will continue to be important under this new leadership.