MEXICO CITY — A booming subscriber base, more channels and a film industry that is growing in depth and quality are conspiring to turn up the heat on regional pay TV sales for Latin American pics at this year’s Guadalajara Film Market.
Digital content distributors for the region like Venevision Intl., Olympusat, Latin American Pay Television and HBO Latin America will be coming in force once again this year.
Millie Luna, the director of acquisitions and programming for Miami-based digital content distributor Venevision Intl., hailed the quality of the market’s staff and facilities among the advantages of Guadalajara.
“It is one of the top three festivals of the year … for our acquisitions team,” says Luna. “Its sheer size, focus on Mexican new productions, (it’s the) first major Latin festival/market of the year, which provides us with a good compass on what to expect in 2012.”
Latin American feevee subscribers grew an estimated 18% from 2010 to 2011 — some 30% in Brazil alone, mostly satellite — making it one of the fastest-growing regions for pay TV.
“Companies are definitely paying more (for films), and the explanation is simply the growth and penetration of the pay TV services in Latin America,” says Arturo Chavez, the head of Spanish-language content for indie cable networks distributor Olympusat.
Chavez added that regional sales are differentiating from those directed at the U.S. Hispanic audience, where subscriber growth is not nearly as strong, and a few major outlets like HBO and Showtime dominate.
However, programmers are increasingly keen on Latin American fare, especially when region-wide sales are possible.
“There’s definitely more interest from producers to pursue a regional pay TV sale given the fact that the competition from new pay TV channels in the market has increased the demand for Spanish language films,” says Luna.
Luna also notes the increased government support in the region as well as the improved quality and international attention received by recent films as adding a premium to their value.
“The quality of the films are now up to par with international independent productions,” she says. “A more steady supply of content makes it attractive to programmers to dedicate a certain number of hours to this genre in their programming grids.”
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