RIO DE JANEIRO — Feevees in Brazil had an aud share of just 26% in homes with cable, according to the first pay TV report from independent ratings agency Ibope.

The results in Latin America’s single-largest market indicate that terrestrial broadcasters still have a stranglehold on viewers after 10 years of pay TV.

The high-quality and popularity of shows on the five networks pull in 74% of viewers with cable, while government delays on awarding cable licenses has slowed the expansion of pay TV.

City search

Ibope, which provides cable ratings in Argentina, Mexico and Chile, has long measured broadcast TV in Brazil, its home market. But raising a pay TV sample was complicated due to the population spread. In the end, the sample only included cable subs in the greater Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro metropolitan areas for the month of March, 2001.

Ibope does not measure viewership in DTH homes, a process that would require installing its technology in the satcasters’ decoder boxes. Rival DTH operators Sky (majority owned by media conglom Globo) and DirecTV have not given Ibope the greenlight.

Per the cable sample, Cartoon Network ranked highest followed by SportTV, Fox Kids, Telecine Premium and TNT. Both SporTV and Telecine Premium are part of Globosat, Globo’s pay TV programming arm.

Globo’s terrestrial net TV Globo, which commands a 50%-plus share of broadcast-TV homes, had an estimated 43% share in a combined broadcast-cable sample.

The Brazilian Pay TV/Telecom Association (ABTA) has also issued a pay TV update.

ABTA calculates there are 3.3 million pay TV homes, including DTH subs, out of 38 million TV homes at year-end 2000, up from 2.9 million in 1999. That makes a pay TV penetration of about 9% in Brazil.

Ibope estimated that figure at 13%; however, cable is more common in urban areas.

Small pie

Advertisers and agencies demand ratings info to back up their media plans, pan-regional programmers say. But, as in most other Latin American markets, pay TV’s share of the Brazilian ad pie remains small.

ABTA found that pay TV generated just 489 million reas ($227 million) in ad revenue last year, with Internet and auto companies the major spenders, while the broadcasters raked in $3.6 billion.

Globosat received the lion’s share, ABTA said. Nonetheless, José Augusto Pinto Moreira, ABTA veep and prexy of No.2 multi-system operator (MSO) TVA, is optimistic that the new data will help.

“It is the key for the Brazilian pay TV industry,” he told Variety. “We expect pay TV advertising to significantly grow because it reaches high-spending A and B demographics.”

(Mary Sutter in Miami contributed to this report.)