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Fox, Televisa Bet on Growth at Canitec

Trade fair sees bullish new channel launch announcements

MADRID — Provide and conquer.

Inaugurated Wednesday by Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico’s 10th Canitec, the country’s annual cable biz confab, proved this year round a platform for new channel announcements in Latin America’s ever-expanding pay TV market.

The biggest bulls proved to be Fox and Mexico’s own Televisa.

Fox Intl. Channels Latin America revealed it will launch MundoFox across Latin America, while rebranding its lifestyle channel Utilisima as Fox Life, said FIC Latin America prexy Carlos Martinez. Utilisima already reaches more than 55 million homes in Latin America, he added.

MundoFox will include new Spanish-language original series targeting the Latin American market.

Meanwhile, packing more punch — literally — in Latin America, Televisa Networks, Televisa’s multi-channel pay TV division, pacted with U.S.-based mixed martial arts promotion company Ultimate Fighting Championship to  launch a dedicated 24-hour UFC premium pay TV subscription channel across Latin America. Televisa has committed to arranging a 20-territory spread in the region.

Before the launch, in an exclusive distribution partnership, Televisa will have rights to air UFC content in 20 Latin American countries from June, broadcasting on Televisa Deportes Network in Mexico and Golden Channel in the rest of Latin America.

UFC shows are already hugely popular in Mexico. A UFC 160 heavyweight title where champ Cain Velasquez pummeled challenger Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva into a pool of blood was watched by about 12 million viewers May 26 on Televisa Deportes Network and Univision Televisa Deportes Network in Mexico and the rest of Latin America.

Now, Televisa wants “to increase subscribers, followers, new business opportunities,” Televisa Network publicity-promotion coordinator Javier Balseca Gonzalez told Variety.

Contents will take in 35 live events under the UFC, Strikeforce and Pride brands, plus reality shows.

The UFC channel will launch from around September, Balseca Gonzalez added.

Pay TV is growing fast in Mexico, having just passed 50% household penetration and 14 million household-subscribers, according to Business Bureau.

At Televisa Networks’ traditional Canitec party, Televisa president-CEO Emilio Azcarraga reminded party goers that Televisa is “by far” Mexico’s biggest pay TV contents creator.

For Televisa, there was one large elephant in the room at Canitec, however: Pena Nieto’s potentially game-changing telecom bill, first unveiled last November, weeks after he was voted into power.

This would give regulators the capacity to prevent companies from controlling more than 50% of Mexico’s TV market. Televisa has a 60%-plus Mexican TV market share: All the more reason for growing not only at home but in its Latin American back garden abroad.

Canitec ran May 29-31 in Mexico City.

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