The two major American content providers Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery both launched OTT offers in Latin America in recent years, starting first with Disney+ in November 2020 and Star+ in 2021 in Latin America. Indeed, Disney gained control of the three-decade-old Star brand as a result of its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. As more and more content is now available on demand, these broadcasters along with the locals, have been adjusting their lineup of channels to balance it with their OTT offers, with different strategies. On their side, Pay TV operators like Claro, DirecTV or Totalplay have been pushed to revamp their offers to remain competitive. How are Pay TV operators, American and local broadcasters adjusting their strategy in Latin America to address all segments of their customer base?
TV Broadcasters are balancing their lineup of channels with new OTT offers
The distribution of channels is highly concentrated in the region, with only 135 groups operating TV channels (against 550 in Asia Pacific for instance). On top of that, the top 10 ranking gives the lion’s share to American players with global expansion strategies, while medium local players often operate one or two channels in their portfolio.
Looking at the variety and quantity of channels in its lineup, WarnerBros. Discovery remains first with 39 channels. The group has chosen not to reduce its offering but either to keep its channels, rebrand them or replace them. They, for instance, replaced Boomerang with Cartoonito at the very end of 2021, entering the preschool segment as a company producing original content. They recently announced the closing of TBS Channel, to be replaced with TNT Novelas, as part of a global trend of American broadcasters trying to meet with Latin American consumers’ prevailing preferences.
Indeed, the American networks had been offering mainly US-based channels in Latin America, meaning channels with almost identical programming as in the US, but dubbed in spanish, and with very few regional shows. In 2022, 77 percent of WarnerBros. Discovery’s channels in its lineup were based on US content programming only, vs 70 percent for Disney.
Meanwhile, The Walt Disney Company shut down 5 of its linear Pay TV channels in 2022: Nat Geo Kids, Nat Geo Wild, FXM, Star Life and Disney XD, in order to increase the convergence of the businesses run by the company between Disney+ and Star+. However, the group continued to give a relative importance to its linear channels as the content from both Nat Geo channels are not exclusively distributed on Disney+ but airing on the third National geographic linear Pay TV channel.
Yet, the above ranking hides slight disparities between countries, where more local strategies are taking shape. For a given broadcaster, the number of channels available isn’t the same in each country. Artear (owned by Clarin) and TelevisaUnivision are two regional operators crossing borders with channels distributed in other Spanish-speaking countries with, for the latter, 10 out of its 18 channels being available outside Mexico.
Looking at the ranking of channels in terms of reach, WarnerBros. Discover owns 4 out of the 5 mostly distributed Pay TV channels regionally, taking advantage of the shut down of Disney XD. Regarding the most popular genres, across the region, 26 percent of the channels are Movies & Fictions, 15 percent are Generalist, 11 percent are Sports and 10 percent Kids. Among the most selected channels shown above, kids channels are still very popular on linear TV and take on half of the top 10 channels in the region. This attractiveness leads operators to launch new tailored channels for kids. In this respect, NBCUniversal launched Dreamworks channel, a new kid-focused channel, in January 2022 in Latin America, adding it to its portfolio of US-based channels.
Yet, this outlook hides the ever-increasing importance of sport as a linear content, which is at the heart of local Pay TV operators’ strategies. Holding the official rights to broadcast all 64 matches of the FIFA World Cup 2022 live in Argentina, TyC Sports was the most distributed PTV channel in the country in 2022. In Mexico, Fox Sports was the most distributed channel, following its forced-acquisition by Grupo Multimedia Laumann from Disney in November 2021, due to Mexican legal restrictions resulting from its merger with Fox.
Lucas Launay|, Analyst at Dataxis said, “This research highlight is based on our data coverage of OTT and Video and TV Distribution in Latin America. Please contact us to get a demo and see the depth of our service. This topic will also be addressed during Nextv Series Mexico, the event about the innovation and transformation of the main players of the new streaming industry in the country: Pay TV operators, TV networks, broadcast TV broadcasters, OTTs, Telcos and ISPs.”