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Infrastructure, content key to LatAm OTT success

Research from enterprise-class subscription billing specialist Vindicia and video, analytics and advertising technology provider Ooyala suggests that premium OTT is set for strong growth in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. Major pay-TV providers and regional media groups are investing in services tailored to local tastes, increasing consumer awareness and paving the way for significant market growth through to 2018.

Industry participants across the region expect key markets to roughly double in size between 2015 and 2018, from $45 million to $115 million in Argentina, $180 million to $460 million in Brazil, and from $240m to $450 million in Mexico. “Premium OTT in Latin America has developed relatively slowly, despite Netflix’s strong presence in the region, but strong local players are now gearing up to grow the OTT market. There is considerable headroom for growth, especially at lower price points. While Netflix and other international contenders will have to fill the local content gap, everyone will have to face the challenges of poor broadband infrastructure, driving consumer awareness and take-up, and processing payments,” said Jon Watts, Managing Partner at research firm MTM.

MTM interviewed 60 experienced executives from across the technology, media and entertainment industries, including studios and broadcast networks, rights holders, leading multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), mass-market and niche OTT providers and online video businesses, producers, and investors.

  • Industry participants are optimistic about future prospects for the market, but highlight important challenges facing local providers, including:
  • Poor broadband infrastructure: Limited broadband penetration in Latin American countries is a significant barrier for services delivered over the Internet. There are only 10-15 fixed-line broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in the major Latin American countries, compared to 30-35 in Canada and the US. In addition, of those broadband connections, less than 60 per cent in Mexico and less than 30 per cent in Brazil provide a connection faster than 4 MBps, which is considered to be the bare minimum for streaming premium OTT content.
  • Strong local TV providers: Throughout Latin America, strong local FTA and pay-TV providers continue to invest heavily in local content production, premium rights and new services and have substantial market power and strong consumer relationships. Linear TV viewing is still growing and many consumers appear satisfied with existing TV offerings.
  • High levels of piracy: Industry participants in Latin America were open about the spread and acceptance of online pirated content, with recent studies suggesting that roughly half of Latin American Internet users access pirated content.
  • Complexities around payment: Payment is perceived as a major barrier to premium OTT take-up in Latin America. Credit card penetration is low and consumers are frequently unwilling and unable to pay for goods and services online. As this situation is not expected to change significantly, OTT service providers will increasingly look to offer alternative methods of payment, with approaches varying market-by-market – for example, gift cards are believed to be an attractive option in Mexico but not in the Brazilian market.

Despite these challenges, industry executives believe the market is poised for growth. The technical costs and complexities of developing new OTT offerings are coming down, local infrastructure is gradually improving, and a wide range of local companies – from start-ups to major media conglomerates – are investing to launch and grow premium OTT offerings.

“There’s no question Latin American viewers will take to streaming content like the rest of the world,” said Caitlin Spaan, senior vice president of marketing for Ooyala. “For example, local industry participants expect niche services to proliferate across the region, suggesting that by 2018, there could be up to 40 providers of specialist services with more than 50,000 subscribers in Mexico, up to 20 in Brazil and up to 15 in Argentina. The most attractive and lucrative niches are expected to be in children’s programming and sports – especially soccer – with specialty film, music, religion and lifestyle closely following.”

“From Vindicia’s perspective, we are committed to providing a recurring billing platform that will allow service providers to be reliably profitable for the long term,” said Bryta Schulz, senior vice president of marketing for Vindicia. “Already, the entire Latin American market is worth $756 million. This represents 58 per cent growth from 2012 to 2015. Netflix alone accounts for 66 per cent of this market. In the same period of time, a proliferation of launches from smaller streaming service providers signals that despite the current barriers, streaming is the future of Latin American entertainment, just like in other parts of the world.”

 

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