Piracy makes LATAM pay-TV market miss out on quarter of revs

DetailsJuan Fernandez Gonzalez | 15 January 2015

Piracy and operators under-reporting subscriber figures are affecting pay-TV business across Latin American markets, with the industry missing out on over 25% of revenues due to unregulated consumption.

The number of pay-TV subscribers should have already reached 84 million, but the reported legal subscriber figure is only 66 million.

According to Business Bureau's New Media Book 2014, pay-TV consumption grew by 17% during 2014, including pirate consumption, with penetration reaching 52%, led by digital signals (only 28% of connections are still analogue).

While DTH has been cited as the leading technology by other reports, Business Bureau's figures give the lead to cable, with 53% of all pay-TV connections.

Although piracy is seriously affecting the figures, illegal habits aren't seen in all Latin American countries to the same extent. From Bolivia, where one out of four connections is illegal, to Uruguay where 3% of connections are illegal, the situations differ. Brazil has 20% piracy and Peru 17%, whereas Mexico, the largest Spanish-speaking pay-TV market, has only 4%.

The report also highlights the bad reporting practises carried out by some operators, which state fewer subscribers than they actually have. According to the consultancy firm, this is particularly common in Central America, with countries like Guatemala or Nicaragua not properly reporting over half their subscriptions.

Both piracy and under-reporting are making the pay-TV industry miss out on nearly $1.5 billion per year.