Central America set to add two million subs in three years


Juan Fernandez Gonzalez

| 31 July 2015

The Central America and Dominican Republic pay-TV industries are set to grow despite high levels of piracy, according to Dataxis' latest report, increasing from the 3.58 million legal subs registered at the end of 2014 to 5.57 million in 2018.

As of 2014, pay-TV penetration was 29.4% of total TV households in Central America and the Dominican Republic, whereas 22.4% of TV households were accessing some form of illegal pay-TV. The remaining 48.2% of TV households were still relying on free-to-air (FTA) broadcasts as their exclusive source of television content.

While still recording very high levels, piracy has drastically decreased as a proportion of the total TV-viewing universe. Back in 2008, for every legal pay-TV subscriber in the region there were 2.4 illegal ones. This decreased to less than one illegal pay-TV subs per legal subscription for the first time in 2013, and Dataxis projects that by 2018 there will be less than 0.4 illegal connections per each legal subscription.

One of the driving forces behind such a drastic reduction has been the rapid rate of digitalisation of pay-TV services. Reaching 58.5% penetration by 2014, digitalisation is expected to reach 81.1% by 2018.

"A combination of rising living standards and the emergence of global telecommunication companies that have started to set their sights on what are effectively very under-served markets with plenty of growth potential has led to a rush of new service launches, mergers and acquisitions of established operators," said Juan Pablo Conti, senior analyst at Dataxis.

Annual pay-TV revenue has also been continually growing in the region since 2008, and is expected to reach nearly $1.45 billion in 2018.