Colombian pay TV faces the arrival of OTTs and ISPs to the market

As part of the 2019 edition of the Nextv Series Colombia event, the leading conference that took place last June 27th at the JW Marriott Hotel in Bogota, the panel “The new era for cable operators” featured Sergio Restrepo, CEO of Cable Mio – Tevecom, Gabriel Ferrer, General Manager at Codisert, Bruno Magalhães, Director of Business Development Latam at Ateme and Gabriel Garzon, General Manager of Alphavision. Some of the main topics debated were the current pay TV performance in the country,, the arrival of ISPs and the development of the OTT area over linear TV.

‘TV consumption is growing, but the one that concerns us as cable operators is in an accelerated decrease, and this is causing us problems due to the growth that other platforms are having’, said Magalhães when asked if it is possible for the pay TV penetration to continue growing. The problem related to the disappearance of the linear TV model in front of the internet market growth was also discussed. According to Ferrer, ‘we are five years after the linear TV model disappearance, although there are analysts who indicate a between 10 and 15 years term’.

According to Magalhães, pay TV is not growing at present, compared with OTTs, and he emphasized on how operators are focused on growing facing this situation. ‘It would be great if all small and medium cable operators could have an OTT between us, which is competitive against the big ones, but from our perspective, even the content provider makes the proposal unviable’. The idea of setting up an OTT with Colombian national production was also mentioned during the conference.

When debating about the ISPs arrival, Ferrer said that ‘they are already thinking of bringing TV products to homes, and some cable operators are developing some gpon sectors, although the market is not ready to reach that sector. But, for sure,  the legislation will allow them to develop TV services’. According to Restrepo, ‘TV has many more taxes compared to ISPs. We built the market for more than 20 years, and new players will not understand its costs, because there are no barriers on the internet to reach a final user. I’m not afraid that ISPs will enter the business, but it seems unfair to me’, he explained. Speakers also expressed themselves on the lack of infrastructure for ISPs to be used in Colombia and that, at present, almost 40 percent of cable operators gross revenues -including Internet revenues- are used for content providers payments.

‘When ISPs notice that the TV business is not profitable, they are going to get one hundred percent into the internet business’, Restrepo said, noting that they will offer higher connection speeds at lower cost, more megas and more connection to OTT platforms. The future of cable TV and OTT with new clients was also discussed. This way, the executives said that ‘we are just beginning the war against OTTs’, and stressed that ‘in less than a year we will see three new OTTs in the local market’, referring to the launchings of Disney+, Warner and Netflix, which arrived at Colombia two years ago.

Live events broadcasts through OTTs was a topic also discussed. “OTTs are going to do away with linear TV when they find a way to have live linear content’,”they said, adding that ‘content is always the main element’.