Disney, Galaxy plan Latin channel

Satcaster lands pay TV rights, exclu digital launch

MIAMI — Satcaster Galaxy Latin America is expected to announce today it has snapped up exclusive Latam pay TV rights to Disney’s long-delayed Latino channel.

Galaxy Latam execs have been tight-lipped about a press event skedded for tonight in Orlando.

Disney executives have long been mum on their plans for the Latino channel, the launch of which has been delayed for several years.

In the meantime, Disney had been signing pricey exclusive programming deals with broadcasters around the region, which industry observers say complicated plans for their own channel.

By launching the channel exclusively on a DTH platform, Disney should be able to skirt that issue.

Also contributing to the delay was Disney’s internal debate over launching a basic cable channel versus a premium channel.

“They want a profit-maker,” said one industry source. “That’s only possible with a premium service.”

The multiyear accord apparently only covers Spanish-lingo markets, thereby excluding Brazil, one of the major DTH markets in Latin America.

The Disney exclusive will give Galaxy a competitive edge over Sky in markets like Mexico, where the latter lags well behind in subs.

The Latino channel will be modeled on the U.S. Disney Channel, but will feature programming designed specifically for Latino markets. That strategy is similar to the one followed by Disney Channel spinoffs in Europe and in Asia.

However, tiering on Latam cable is extremely limited and most channels are jockeying for space on basic systems.

In Argentina, the region’s most heavily cabled market, HBO Latin America opted to pull its channels off cable altogether to go exclusive with Galaxy.

Rival satcaster Sky Latam has not yet launched in Argentina.

The Galaxy-Disney partnership could help accelerate an effort to add tiers, resisted by cable system operators reluctant to invest in the pay-box technology.

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