(Adds background on TelevisaUnivision deal, company comment)
By Cassandra Garrison
MEXICO CITY, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Grupo Televisa , Mexico's largest broadcaster, on Thursday reported an 8.6% dip in net profit in the fourth quarter compared with a year earlier due to lower operating segment income and fewer customers who renew prepaid packages.
The company posted a fourth-quarter net profit of 3 billion pesos ($148 million), compared with 3.3 billion pesos in the same period in 2020.
Fourth-quarter sales decreased 4.4%. The company said in a filing with the Mexican stock exchange there had been fewer recharges of prepaid packages for Sky, its direct-to-home satellite television unit, as students and workers return to in-person classes and offices.
Meanwhile, operating segment income decreased 13.9% to 1.8 billion pesos a year earlier.
Televisa's revenue increased 3.7% to 28.8 billion pesos from the year-earlier period.
The company's advertising revenue jumped 7.2% to 7.1 billion pesos, the company said, boosted by private-sector clients seeking to position their brands and products in front of customers.
But the COVID-19 pandemic continued to negatively impact business, Televisa said, partly because sporting and entertainment events for which it has transmission rights are operating with restrictions.
"The deteriorating conditions of global economies as a result of the pandemic could ultimately reduce the demand for the company's products through its segments as its customers and users reduce or postpone their spending," the company said.
Televisa and U.S. broadcaster Univision last month closed a deal to create new Spanish language media company TelevisaUnivision.
"As a result, in the first quarter of 2022, Televisa expects to increase its cash and cash equivalents in the amount of approximately $3.2 billion," the company said.
TelevisaUnivision's global streaming platform, ViX, which will take on established rivals including Netflix Inc and Disney Plus, will launch in March, executives said. ($1 = 20.5075 pesos at end-December) (Reporting by Cassandra Garrison, Valentine Hilaire and Noe Torres in Mexico City Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Matthew Lewis)