HBO fosters Family ties in LatAm

Pay TV market still shaky in region

MIAMI — HBO Latin America Group is prepping a fourth-quarter bow for HBO Family, a new feevee to form part of a planned all-digital, 10-channel premium package.

HBO Latam Group wants to increase its own subscriber base while aiming to boost the overall development of digital services — at a time when most of the Latin American pay TV industry is just trying to ride out a multifront crisis.

HBO Latam Group — backed by affils of Time Warner Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Walt Disney Co. and by Ole Communications Group — already owns and operates premium movie channels HBO, HBO Plus, Cinemax and Cinemax Prime, for which it does not disclose sub figures.

“Our exclusive partnership with the industry’s top studios gives us access to an extensive inventory of quality family films which we will augment with new original productions … HBO Family was a natural line extension for us,” said Gaston Comas, CEO for the HBO Latin America Group.

Company also handles distribution for Sony-owned AXN and for Disney Channel Latin America.

HBO Family and the four premium movie channels will comprise half of a 10-channel premium package to be introduced in the fourth quarter. No details on the other five channels were disclosed.

“Our new HBO and Cinemax package will provide our affiliates with an important tool for the migration from analog premium transmission to digital premium network formats,” Comas predicted.

HBO Latin America calculates that the region has more than 2.5 million cable homes with addressable systems that allow for premium services, plus another 3 million satellite homes.

HBO Latin America intends to adapt the package to its affils’ capacity, though it expects that in certain markets, the full slate of 10 premium feevees will be offered.

But the overall pay TV market in Latin America is far from strong these days: The region’s most heavily cabled country, Argentina, has yet to recover from its economic collapse. Pay TV growth has been stagnant or negative in Brazil, while Mexico has managed to hang on.

And earlier this year, the region’s single largest pay TV provider, DirecTV Latin America, sought bankruptcy protection.