Telefónica, Mediapro team on eSports channel to spur LatAm content growth

eSports content growth

eSports was big at NAB and with good reason. The eSports sector is hot everywhere. Spanish telecom power Telefónica is joining film and TV group Mediapro to launch a dedicated eSports channel on Telefónica’s Moviestar OTT Play across much of the Latin American region. The goal: Continued LatAm content growth.

The eSports channel –Ubeat – will make League of Legends, Fortnite and Call of Duty available for esports fans. Initial launch will include Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. Price and launch date are still TBD.

New LatAm content growth strategy

Both Telefónica and Mediapro – like other international broadcasters, operators and studios – are in the early phases of big global content expansions. That’s driven by growing consumer demand for OTT content of all kinds.

Mediapro in March said it was investing €200 million ($226.4 million) to aid Mediapro Studio’s development of film and TV projects in Europe, Latin America and the US.

“The time has come to move beyond our role as a production company and to become a studio,” said Jaume Roures, Mediapro Group managing partner. “We feel we are ready to go one step further and create unique content.”

Mediapro Studio will partner with international production and distribution companies on developing original content.

For Telefónica, expanding content is an ongoing mission. It wants to be “the leading producer of Spanish-language fiction content in the world, a push it began in 2017.

“The incorporation of Ubeat reinforces our content proposal adding new games, championships and original content with Latin talent and Movistar’s commitment to the world of gaming,” said Paula Figueroa, the telecom’s director of video in Latin America.

Figueroa at MIPTV in April, said Telefónica planned a significant content push in Latin America. For instance, pre-production for three new original series already had begun. They’re set to debut in 2H2019.

“After the success achieved by the original fiction content produced by Telefónica in Spain, it was natural for us to expand upon this same strategy for Latin America,” said Figueroa. “Content is what makes our offer stand apart from the rest.” Figueroa said the aim it for its original content to be a “showcase for the huge talent and creativity of a grand community that speaks Spanish as a common language.”

The bottom line

Original content is key to expanding – and succeeding – in any region. While high-value (and expensive to produce) fictional series are seen as the top-shelf of video offerings, the OTT market has expanded to embrace virtually all content. eSports is a good example. It’s booming globally, and Latin America has seen strong interest and investment in the region.

The global eSports market is forecast to be worth $2.96 billion by 2022, Goldman Sachs says. Latin America should top $100 million, driven by growth in Brazil and Mexico. Gaming industry analytics firm Newzoo in February estimated 2019 global eSports revenue at $1.1 billion. That’s 3X 2015 revenues. It estimates eSports’ audience will increase to 454 million in 2019, up 15% from 2018’s 395 million.

Telefónica and Mediapro aren’t alone in their LatAm expansion. Mexican TV broadcaster TV Azteca, part of Grupo Salinas, last month also announced it was jumping into the space. It’s investing $5 million in Allied Esports. The deal will develop an eSports channel aimed at the LatAm market. It gives Allied access to 95% of the Mexican market across TV Azteca’s digital channels and free-to-air channels.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn