By Frank McCoy
Univision’s TV empire
US News, Diciembre 18, 2000
Jorge Ramos is the face of Spanish-language television in the United States. And even if you don’t know him, millions do. The 42-year-old native of Mexico is the lead news anchor for Univision Communications Inc., the fifth-largest full-time U.S. television network. In Los Angeles, Miami, and Houston, more people watch Ramos than watch Rather, Brokaw, or Jennings.
He is about to become even more popular. Univision plans to buy the TV arm of Barry Diller’s USA Networks for $1.1 billion, making it a bona fide media powerhouse and leaving its closest competitor, Telemundo Networks, in the dust. There are 21 million Latinos who speak Spanish at home. Univision now has an 80 percent share of that audience, which is a big draw for advertisers. The economic forecasting firm DRI/McGraw-Hill estimates that the Latino community is a $458 billion market, which analysts say has long been undertapped.
Full power. The new Univision will more than double its stable of 12 full-power stations allowing it to reach new viewers in Boston, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. More important, the network will obtain second stations in seven of the top eight Hispanic markets, including Los Angeles and Miami. That might not have been possible a few years ago but the Federal Communications Commission has eased rules that had barred a company from owning more than one TV station in a city. That could allow Univision to revamp its lineup of predictable telenovelas, or soaps. For example, Univision might tailor a programming lineup to the demographic group advertisers crave. “Maybe [it] would be geared toward a younger audience, and that could be a catalyst for drawing additional advertising revenue to the network,” says David C. Joyce, an analyst at Guzman & Co., a Miami investment bank.
As for Diller, the mogul-in-waiting gets a cool billion to put to better use empire building. But he is also living proof that it is very hard to build a media giant from the ground up.