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Over The Top Providers Creeping Into Latin America

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When Fox Sports Latin America launched Fox Sports Premium at the start of the year, the OTT revolution officially expanded in Central and South America, joining the likes of Fanatiz.

OTT, or Over The Top services are content providers who offer streaming media as their sole offering, rather than as a complimentary arm of broadcast.

Even aside from large media companies like Fox Sports, OTTs are being launched by venues and events themselves. In 2019, the French Tennis Federation and Roland Garros have teamed with Brazilian telecommunications firm Vivo to produce “RG Ao Vivo.” The platform will feature live coverage of the 2019 French Open, as well as house archival footage from one of tennis’ hallowed grounds.

Infrastructure issues have largely slowed the expansion of OTT services into Latin America, with Mexico becoming the first nation in the area to fully switch off analogue broadcasting at the end of 2018.

The change over from analog to digital broadcasting largely deals with high definition video, which is most often a property of digital and OTT providers. The early driver of high definition video was live sports, and in fully-digital countries, continues to drive the desire for Ultra High Definition video.

Argentina and Colombia plan to terminate analogue by the end of 2019, with Panama, Peru and Venezuela aiming for December 2020. Meanwhile, though Brazil’s transition started in the late 1990s, it has slowed nearly to a halt.

Regardless of the slower transition, OTT subscriptions in Latin America are projected to hit 51.1 million according to ResearchAndMarkets.com. According to that report, Brazil is expected to make up 40 percent of the region’s projected $8.25 billion revenue, with Mexico at 24 percent.

As of 2018, the largest OTT market in Latin America was Mexico at 19.3 million households.

While the infrastructure is improved upon, still-transitioning countries like Brazil often offer low-interest loans to those still without digital equipment. As the number of households able to hook up to OTT grows, media providers will prepare quickly to reach the projected millions in need.

Therein, the supply of high definition channels will rise, and so too will the demand for live sports providers. Video content providers like Netflix and HBO are sure to dominate the media market share at first, but few are expected to hold exclusive rights on OTT sports broadcasts.

GLOBO, the Brazilian media company, is set to renovate its services and facilities fully in order to accommodate the burgeoning digital industry.

The tech giant has already rebroadcast multiple 2018 FIFA World Cup matches on their 4K HD test channel. Even though Brazilian technology cannot yet support 4K HD, GLOBO is already prepared for the moment it can.

In late 2019, the Sportv Latin America Series will bring sports broadcasters, Pay TV operators and sports leagues to Florida for a conference at which the market of OTT sports will be discussed. Over 30 executives from Fox Sports Latin America, DirecTV, and more are scheduled to attend.

One of the obstacles standing in front of potential marketers on OTT platforms is the difficulty in identifying exactly who their audience is. At the same time, most services also suffer from ad overexposure, meaning there is still plenty of life to be breathed in to each platform.

The opportunity to break into the OTT sports market in Latin America remains wide open for both broadcast providers and potential marketers. Though the change over from analog to digital broadcasting may be taking longer than initially hoped, those same entities have had time to prepare.

Author: Alex Hooper