Spanish-speaking pay-TV: a tale of two continents

While Latin Americans are rapidly migrating to pay-TV, with almost every country showing high penetration rates, Spain is on a completely different road, with pay-TV audience figures falling to the lowest in history.

According to the Egeda report about the Latin American and Spanish audiovisual industry, in which Business Bureau analysed the pay-TV market, since 2009 the markets have followed very different paths.

While in countries such as Argentina, which had 59% penetration in 2009 rising to 86% in 2014, Chile (from 35% to 63%), Colombia (37% to 64%) and Ecuador (10% to 41%) are gaining subscribers at an unstoppable rate, Spanish operators have lost 600,000 subs in the last three years and the country now has 24% penetration, the lowest among Spanish-speaking territories.

Looking at operators, the picture is also very different, with Telefónica being the only one present in both regions. While in Spain Canal+, ONO and Movistar top the market, the Latin American countries are led by DirecTV (the largest operator in Venezuela, Uruguay and Ecuador), which shares space with local platforms like UNE in Colombia, VTR in Chile, Inter in Venezuela and Cablevisión in Argentina and Uruguay.

Mexico shows some differences as well. With 59% penetration and 16.7 million subs, the market is led by SKY, close followed by Dish, Megacable and Cablemás.

The report also looks into over-the-top (OTT) operators. Although it offers no subscriber or audience numbers, it ranks the different platforms according to the quantity of content they deliver. At this point, the industry becomes very homogeneous, with Netflix, Apple TV and Claro Video offering the largest portfolio of movies and series throughout Latin America.