May 2012
Volume 32 No. 3

May 2012
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Ranking Latin America’s Biggest TV Markets for Independent Latin American Companies

By Sara Alessi

Latin American companies have always had a large presence at the L.A. Screenings. In fact, it’s one of their two biggest annual TV events, and many take the opportunity to unveil new productions there. But which countries represent the most enthusiastic and lucrative buyers for them?

VideoAge set out to answer that question, as well as to discover how individual country sales compare to those made to pan-regionals, and what type of programming sells best internationally.

However, while surveying LAM executives, it became clear that many didn’t want to rank any one market as more or less important than another. Neither were most of them willing to compare markets to pan-regionals.

As Record TV Network’s Delmar Andrade said, “All markets are important, and each region has its different characteristics.”

Moira Mc Namara of Ledafilms was reluctant to rank markets because, as she diplomatically put it, “We distribute our titles throughout the Latin American territory. Therefore it’s difficult for us to list markets in order of importance.” She added, “If we talk about prices, everyone will say that Brazil and Mexico are the first ones in order, but if we talk about volume, then Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Puerto Rico and Uruguay, together with Central America, are the primary markets,” she said.

Argentina-based Telefe Internacional’s Michelle Wasserman qualified her ranking as well. She emphasized that the top markets for program sales “Continue to change every year and from time to time, and the word ’important’ is relative.” But she conceded, “Combining incomes and strategic position, we can list them as follows: Uruguay, Mexico, Russia, Latin America’s pan-regionals, Colombia, Central/South America, Italy, USA, Spain.”

Execs from Miami-based Venevision International, Televisa Internacional, PE Media Services and Somos TV were bolder, and actually willing to provide a list of their top markets. Televisa’s Carlos Castro, Venevision’s Cesar Diaz and Somos’s Jose Antonio Espinal all placed the U.S./U.S. Hispanic market as number one. Ecuador was close to the top on Venevision and Televisa’s lists: number four on Venevision’s and number five for Televisa. Ecuador rang in at number seven for Pepe Echegaray’s PE Media Services, but didn’t make the cut for Somos.

Not surprisingly, Spanish-speaking territories topped the lists, with Venevision’s top markets mostly centering on the Americas and the Caribbean (the Dominican Republic) — with the exception of its number two market, Spain, and its number seven market, Canada.

Diaz’s ranking for Venevision was as follows: the U.S., Spain, Mexico, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Canada, Colombia, Chile and Argentina. Castro listed Televisa’s top markets as U.S. Hispanic, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil, Panama, Spain and Eastern Europe. Somos’s Espinal pointed to the U.S. Hispanic market, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Central America. Mexico was number one for PE Media’s Echegaray, followed by Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Honduras and Chile.

Asked whether the countries or pan-regionals are more valuable in terms of program sales, Venevision’s Diaz revealed, “From a sales perspective…I categorize the broadcasters in each territory as having more importance than the pan-regionals only because they consume more variety and more program hours.” However, he remarked, “All of the territories and pan-regional channels each carry a distinct importance.”

Though most of the executives surveyed were reluctant to compare pan-regionals to single-country sales, the general consensus was that pan-regionals are growing in importance.

PE Media’s Echegaray finds the pan-regionals, including Universal, LAPTV, FOX, Colorado TV and Pramer, to be “as important as [his] main free broadcast clients.”

Telefe’s Wasserman agreed that the pan-regionals are “not less or more, but as important. Secondary windows have become more and more important to us because they are open to formats. Our content has come to have more exposure in different windows. Plus, cable is becoming more important day by day. We are maximizing exposure and learning to understand the cable/pan-regional business,” she said.

Pan-regionals also offer an opportunity to break into markets that are traditionally more difficult to penetrate. As Wasserman explained, “It’s hard to sell ready-made content to Chile, but if I sell [it] to cable, it will get into Chile anyway.”

The executives also shied away from listing the pan-regionals themselves in order of importance because, as Wasserman said, “All of them have their relative importance.” Some of the pan-regionals that Telefe works with are: Pramer (for Cosmopolitan), Televisa Networks, Turner (for Space, Isat, Tru TV, Cartoon, Very Funny, etc.), Disney, HBO, Sony, Viacom Group (for Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, etc.), DLA, Imagina (Pasiones), Fox Latin American Channels, Fox International Channels and Globosat.

"We have done deals with all the big players, that is Turner, HBO, LAPTV, Globosat, Discovery, FOX, Universal, etc.,” said Ledafilms’ Mc Namara. She went on to say, “Due to the fact that we do not always have the rights for pay-TV and free TV for all of our titles, it’s difficult for us to make any kind of comparison between pay-TV and free TV sales. Nevertheless, everyone knows that pay-TV’s needs for movies are greater than free TV, therefore pay-TV together with the new players (VoD) are getting more important every day.”

And when it comes to the type of content that does best internationally, perhaps unsurprisingly, Record, Venevision, Telefe and Televisa all cited the telenovela as their top genre. For Somos, the telenovela is second to formats and scripts.

Rounding out the rest of the list for Telefe are romantic comedies, series, unitaries (specials) and clips. Venevision’s Diaz finds comedy to be the second most sold genre, “followed by teen series, children’s programming and documentaries.” Comedy titles are also a popular sale for Ledafilms, and Televisa noted that entertainment programming is its fourth most-sold genre internationally. Echegaray’s list differed from the others, as he finds that movies, miniseries, sports, series and documentaries top PE Media’s international program sales.

Ledafilms’ Mc Namara concluded that clients are “always looking for good action, family and comedy titles, as well as event miniseries and reality-type programs.”