"The Argentinean market is in continual evolution," said Enrique Martinez, senior vp of Discovery Latin America. He also commented that there has been a lot of ownership changes from the cable and distribution standpoint over the past couple years. The consolidation has had a significant impact on the industry.
From a growth standpoint, the market is very much saturated, depending on which statistics are used. Somewhere in the order of 55 percent of all television households in Argentina have pay-TV services. The Argentine market has been somewhat of a latecomer to the DTH game. However, there have been some inroads in relation to direct home access, especially with the recent launch of DirecTV and the announcement from Sky regarding the impending launch of their satellite service.
Argentina has always been a very competitive market. The industry flourished many years ago, long before any of the neighboring markets. Unlike other parts of Latin America where the industry flourished as the result of piracy or the spillover of the U.S. signals (the footprint didn't reach that far south), in Argentina there was the need to develop content. By the time the American companies had begun focusing on that market, there was already a strong programming and content industry in place.
According to Director of Scheduling and Acquisitions Ryan Shiotani, Discovery Networks Latin America has made a big commitment to foster relationships with local independent producers and to feature more Latin American stories, as well as Latin American talent. According to Shiotani, a lot of work has been done in Argentina. One of Discovery's local productions is Attentado at 9:53 a.m.; it's based on the exact hour that there was a terrorist attack on a Jewish association in Buenos Aires. This is a co-production that Discovery did with Promofilms, an Argentine production company that produced a version of this for Artear, using a lot of that company's footage.
Is it cheaper to produce in Argentina than it is elsewhere in Latin America? For Shiotani it is not...