Televisa posted net sales of $825 million for the first six months of the year, a 1.2% increase over the same period last year, while TV Azteca garnered about $200 million, a 20.4% decline from the previous year.
TV Azteca claimed the significant drop is misleading as last year was exceptional due to 1998 World Cup-related advertising. After excluding sales from the soccer event, revenue for the first six months fell only by 3%, according to a company official.
TV Azteca expects an improved second half after reporting $228 million in pre-sale deposits at the end of the second quarter.
Entertainment analysts however, are uncertain about Azteca's chances of reversing a poor first half. "I have my doubts," said entertainment analyst Rodrigo Quevado of Bancomer.
He added: "If Azteca increases its ratings, then we might see an expansion of sales."
TV Azteca currently holds approximately a third of the market -- relatively unchanged from last year -- and Televisa dominates the rest.
The year 2000, however, could present another scenario for the upstart Azteca, according to Mr. Quevado, when ad revenue faces a significant boost with increased competition in the local telephone market, the presidential elections and the 2000 Olympics.
Copyright August 1999, Crain Communications Inc.