Latin American pay-TV market growth stalls
Joseph O'Halloran
| 06 March 2018

Even though the previous regional economic headwinds seem to have abated, the Latin American pay-TV sector has not quite yet shaken off the shackles, says a survey from Digital TV Research.

The eighth edition of the Latin America Pay TV Forecasts report shows the number of pay-TV subscribers was flat year-on-year with the market predicted to add fewer than five million additional subscribers between 2017 and 2023 , bringing the total to almost 76 million. Moreover, Digital TV Research notes that pay-TV penetration will not climb beyond the current 44% of TV households. In addition, the analyst calculates that pay-TV revenues in Latin America — through subscriptions and PPV — will grow by only 1% between 2017 and 2023 to $19.74 billion. Revenues are set to will fall in 2018 and 2019 before a slow recovery begins.

Two operators were seen to have dominated pay-TV in Latin America: Claro/América Móvil which had 13.91 million pay-TV subscribers by the end of 2017, down 500,000 year-on-year, and DirecTV/Sky on 21.31 million. These two companies accounted for nearly half of the region’s pay TV subs by end-2017.

Digital TV Research found that Mexico overtook Brazil in 2016 to become Latin America’s largest pay-TV market, despite Brazil having twice as many TV households as Mexico. It added that Brazil has been losing subscribers since November 2014 and is projected to just about regain top slot in 2023. However, the report predicts that Brazil will likely have generated $7.01 billion of revenue in 2023, remaining the pay-TV business hub by some margin though lower than in 2017 and 2014. Brazil will be followed by Mexico ($2.49 billion), where subscription rates are much lower, and then Argentina ($2.49 billion).

Commenting on the report, Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research, said: “Given its continuing economic and social problems, Brazil lost a million pay-TV subscribers between 2015 and 2017. Its peak year of 2014 will not be bettered until 2023. Mexico recorded impressive growth in 2016, but its pay TV subscriber count fell in 2017. It will continue to decline until a slow recovery starts in 2020. The 2023 total will be just under the 2016 peak. However, it’s not all bad news as Claro and Telefónica will enter Argentina and Mexico, although this is likely to involve OTT.”