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Insights Into Rate Case Proceedings And Other Major Regulatory Activity Pending For U.S. Energy Utilities

Energy

Power Forecast Briefing: Fleet Transformation, Under-Powered Markets, and Green Energy in 2018

2019 Outlook For Latin American Multichannel Broadband Market

Banking

Street Talk Episode 37 - Keep 'Marge' Happy — How To Win The Battle For Deposits

Latin American Multichannel Broadband Market 2018 Recap

Energy
Insights Into Rate Case Proceedings And Other Major Regulatory Activity Pending For U.S. Energy Utilities

Apr. 23 2018 — The pace of regulatory activity remains active nationwide, with 77 electric and gas rate cases pending in 36 states as of March 16. In addition, most state regulatory commissions and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have opened proceedings to address the revenue requirement impacts of the federal tax act enacted in December 2017. Taking effect January 1, the act, among other things, lowers the corporate income tax rate to 21% from 35%.

Map of pending energy rate cases

In these 77 pending cases, the utilities are seeking rate increases aggregating to about $5.5 billion, net, excluding the later-year steps of multiyear rate requests

Of the 77 pending rate cases, about 18 of them were formally initiated this year. In those cases, the average requested ROE is 10% for electric and 10.4% for gas utilities versus 12% for electric and 12.4% for gas companies in 2000.

Average electric and gas requested ROEs graph

In addition to rate case proceedings, state commission reviews of merger proposals are underway in a few states from proposed transactions announced in 2017 and 2018.

Tax reform-related proceedings are ongoing at the state and federal level. A large number of companies are addressing the issue with their respective commissions on a stand-alone basis or as part of commission-initiated generic proceedings. Others have proposed to address the tax reform issues more holistically in the context of pending rate proceedings and have filed revised revenue requirements that reflect the changes that stem from the TCJA. Still others have filed new base rate cases or indicated that they plan to do so in the future to address the issue.

Several grid safety and modernization proceedings are pending nationwide. In California, the California Public Utilities Commission’s investigation into whether Pacific Gas and Electric Co., or PG&E, and its parent PG&E Corp.’s organizational culture and governance prioritize safety and adequately direct resources and accountability measures to achieve safety goals and standards continues. Among the possible remedies to be considered is a reduction in the company’s authorized ROE. An investigation is also pending before the California PUC to determine whether the costs related to Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility should be excluded from the rates of Southern California Gas Co. following a highly publicized safety-related incident.

The District of Columbia Public Service Commission has opened an investigation to “identify technologies and policies that can modernize our energy delivery system for increased sustainability and will make our system more reliable, efficient, cost-effective, and interactive.”

In neighboring Maryland, the Public Service Commission has opened a proceeding to conduct a “targeted review” of Maryland’s electric distribution system to “ensure that [the system] is customer-centered, affordable, reliable, and environmentally sustainable.” Working groups are to complete deliberations on these issues by June 2018.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has initiated a proceeding to investigate the merits of certain technological and regulatory initiatives that could “serve to enhance the consumer electricity experience.” The PUC has established a three-phase investigation; the first phase began in April 2017, with presentations to the commission that offer “a glimpse of the future.”

An investigation into the “NextGrid Utility of the Future,” a collaborative that will primarily focus on identifying future technological advancements and improved utility regulatory models was recently initiated by the Illinois Commerce Commission. An independent third party will lead the investigation, and reports will be presented to the commission in 2018.

A grid modernization investigation is underway in Rhode Island, referred to as the Power Sector Transformation Initiative. Meanwhile, as part of a pending rate case, National Grid plc subsidiary Narragansett Electric Co. is proposing a Power Sector Transformation plan to support the Initiative. Narragansett Electric’s Power Sector Transformation plan is comprised of four main components: investments in advanced metering, grid modernization, electric vehicle infrastructure, and energy storage and solar demonstration projects.

Similar proceedings are pending in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Minnesota. In New York, a policy framework on ratemaking and utility business models was adopted in May 2016 as part of the Reforming the Energy Vision proceeding. The utilities submitted Distributed System Implementation Plans that address distribution system planning, operations, and administration, and identify changes that can be made to effectuate state energy goals and objectives.

Generic proceedings are underway in several states to review aspects of the ratemaking framework. In New Mexico, a proceeding is pending to increase the “transparency” of “rate cases by reducing the number of issues litigated in rate cases and provide a “more level playing field among intervenors and [New Mexico Public Regulation Commission] staff on the one hand, and the utilities on the other.”

In Oklahoma, a task force was established to undertake a “performance assessment” of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, including the time it takes to process cases.

The Michigan Public Service Commission has commenced a study to address performance-based regulation, whereby a utility’s authorized rate of return would be dependent on achieving certain targeted policy outcomes. The PSC is to provide a report to the legislature and governor in April 2018.

In Minnesota, the commission initiated an investigation into performance metrics and potentially, incentives for Xcel Energy subsidiary Northern States Power-Minnesota’s electric utility operations.

In Nevada, a Committee on Energy Choice has been established by Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, due to the passage on November 8, 2016, of a ballot measure that would amend the state’s constitution to allow for a competitive retail electric market for all customers. In addition, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission initiated a proceeding to examine issues associated with the state’s Energy Choice Initiative and the possible restructuring of Nevada’s energy industry.

In Oregon, legislation was enacted in August 2017 that requires the Oregon Public Utility Commission to establish a public process for investigating how developing industry trends, technologies, and policy drivers impact the existing regulatory system and incentives currently used by the commission.

In Pennsylvania, the PUC has opened a proceeding to address alternative forms of regulation of varying kinds. As part of a grid modernization investigation in Rhode Island, referred to as the Power Sector Transformation Initiative, various state agencies have proposed shifting the traditional utility business model in the state to a more performance based model that would align incentives with customer demand and public policy objectives. Other recommendations include utilization of multiyear rate plans, or MRPs, containing budget and revenue caps “to incent cost savings.”

In South Carolina during July of 2017, SCANA Corp. subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas, or SCE&G, announced that it will cease construction of V.C. Summer nuclear units 2 and 3, each 1,117-MW plants. On August 1, 2017, SCE&G formally filed with the PSC to abandon V.C. Summer units 2 and 3 and related ratemaking treatment of the related costs. The General Assembly and the governor’s office are conducting reviews. SCE&G subsequently tendered a proposal designed to resolve the ratemaking and capacity issues associated with the Summer abandonment. The South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff and Governor Henry McMaster have called for SCE&G to cease collecting $445 million that is currently in rates, and legislation has been introduced to that effect. Passage of this legislation would severely impact SCANA’s financial health and possibly could engender a bankruptcy filing.

Pending before the FERC is a June 5, 2017 complaint related to the ROE authorized for certain transmission owners in the Southwest Power Pool. This is the latest in an ongoing string of complaints against FERC approved ROEs for transmission owners that are part of the California Independent System Operator, MidContinent System Operator and the PJM Interconnection.

A proceeding is also ongoing to broadly examine issues associated with the resiliency of the bulk power system, the goals of which “are to develop a common understanding among the Commission, industry and others of what resilience of the bulk power system means and requires; to understand how each regional transmission organization [RTO] and independent system operator [ISO] assesses resilience in its geographic footprint; and to use this information to evaluate whether additional Commission action regarding resilience is appropriate.”

Several proceedings have been initiated before the FERC to address changes in federal tax rates for companies it regulates, as a result of the TCJA, including electric transmission utilities and natural gas and oil pipelines. For the electric sector, FERC said that “because most of the FERC-regulated electric transmission companies have transmission rates that automatically adjust with changes in the tax rates, the adjustments for much of the industry are already taking place.” However, the commission simultaneously issued “show cause” orders directing 48 companies to propose revisions to their transmission tariffs.

For the natural gas pipeline sector, FERC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking, or NOPR, “that would allow FERC to determine which pipelines under the Natural Gas Act may be collecting unjust and unreasonable rates in light of the corporate tax reduction and changes to the Commission’s income tax allowance policies.” In addition, the NOPR requires pipelines “to file a one-time report, called FERC Form No. 501-G, on the rate effect of the new tax law and changes to the Commission’s income tax allowance policies.”


Watch: Power Forecast Briefing: Fleet Transformation, Under-Powered Markets, and Green Energy in 2018

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Technology, Media & Telecom
2019 Outlook For Latin American Multichannel Broadband Market

Highlights

Pay TV and broadband growth trend strengthens in 2019.

Broadband net adds projected to be almost double those of multichannel in 2019.

IPTV gets a boost from new Telefónica strategy.

Jan. 14 2019 — The Latin America multichannel and broadband industry is heading into 2019 with positive headwinds. Demand for convergent services and economic recovery in larger markets should drive industry growth in 2019. The big caveat is the economy, with external shocks threatening to decelerate economic growth. Amid this environment, we expect the M&A market to remain active, with transactions in Mexico and Central America highly likely. New virtual multichannel, satellite broadband and IPTV services should also gain a foothold in the region.

Pay TV and broadband growth trend strengthens in 2019

Kagan estimates Latin America's multichannel and broadband subscriber bases should expand during 2019, with broadband net adds projected to be almost double those of multichannel. The trend toward convergent services is expected to help cable regain strength in the multichannel market, accounting for the majority of net additions. Multichannel revenues are forecast to grow, with Argentina, Brazil and Mexico expected to be the biggest contributors to multichannel revenue growth. The importance of fiber technologies is rising, concentrating the highest share of fixed broadband net additions during 2019.

Already a client? Refer to the regional profile linked here for additional details.

Economy: Outlook for 2019

The World Bank projects Latin American and Caribbean GDP will expand 2.3% during 2019. However, deteriorating external conditions and local challenges might hinder economic growth. Recovering private consumption and investments should drive GDP growth in the region for 2019, although foreign exchange volatility and rising financing costs could weaken this trend. Prospects for fiscal consolidation in Argentina and Brazil remain challenging due to political opposition, especially in Argentina, where general elections are to be held in October. Venezuela's economic prospects remain dire, worsened by the recent drop in oil prices.

M&A: Mexico and Central America to remain active

The possibility of Telefónica SA divesting its Mexican and Central American operations, along with Millicom International Cellular SA's and Liberty Latin America Ltd.'s continued competition for acquisition targets in Central America to strengthen their positions in the region, raises the prospects for active Latin American M&A in 2019. Investment funds and Latin American telecommunication groups seem to be competing for Telefónica's assets in Mexico and Central America. Liberty Latin America is actively looking for acquisition opportunities in Latin America through its Chilean subsidiary VTR and is cited as a potential buyer for Telefónica assets, along with competitors Millicom, Entel Chile and AT&T Inc., although the latter may be barred in Mexico due to the mobile market concentration that would result.

AT&T Inc.'s acquisition of Time Warner Inc. may also lead to changes in its Latin American operations. After the failed IPO of DIRECTV Latin America LLC (now named Vrio) in 2018, the company may still need to divest some assets in Brazil due to local regulations preventing pay TV operations from owning content producers.

Brazilian regulator Anatel also raised spectrum caps at the end of 2018, opening up the country's mobile market for consolidation. Embattled former iDEN carrier Nextel Telecomunicações SA has been looking for a buyer for years, and Telecom Italia SpA's TIM Participações SA has already announced it has made an initial offer. Regional telco Sercomtel Telecom may also choose to sell its spectrum assets — which may be allowed if a telecom reform bill currently under discussion in the Senate is passed — or even the whole company.

In Argentina, regulatory conditions for the approval of Telecom Argentina's merger with Cablevisión Argentina may lead the company to divest many assets in 2019. The operator must sell off its fixed broadband business in 28 areas of the country where the merger could affect competition, as well as excess wireless spectrum above the regulatory cap.

Already a client? Please click here for our annual global mobile spectrum roundup, and here for an overview of upcoming global spectrum auctions.

A final ruling by the Court of Cundinamarca put to rest the Bogotá municipality's proposal to sell Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogotá SA ESP, or ETB. The court cited irregularities in the approval of the proposal as its basis to nullify the decision. Nevertheless, the court said the ruling does not prohibit the sale of ETB, but that the municipality will have to initiate a new approval process to achieve it.

Effects of election results

The election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico introduced some uncertainty into the Latin American political picture. Both presidents are in the opposite side of the political spectrum, Bolsonaro on the right and AMLO on the left. Nevertheless, both candidates ran on a populist agenda, with ambitious campaign promises that pose a risk to fiscal discipline. Ivan Duque, Colombia's new president, is likely to maintain his predecessor's market-friendly policies, while Argentina's Mauricio Macri's inability to implement fiscal reform may cost him the presidency in general elections in October 2019.

In the telecommunications sector, AMLO pledged to promote market efficiency and close the gap in access to telecommunications, whereas Bolsonaro's program remains vague on issues related to media and telecommunications.

Already a client? Please click here for additional insights about AMLO election, and here for insights on Bolsonaro election.

LatAm countries with upcoming 2019 elections

Argentina
Bolivia
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
Guatemala
Panama
Uruguay

Virtual multichannel

DIRECTV Latin America launched Latin America's first virtual multichannel services in November in Colombia and Chile. The company is expected to expand the offer, DIRECTV Go, to Argentina and other Latin American markets during 2019. Telecom Argentina executives have also hinted that the company's video-on-demand/TV Everywhere service, Cablevisión Flow, which offers over 200 linear channels to pay TV subscribers, may soon be launched as a virtual multichannel service for nonsubscribers.

Telefónica has also been quietly rolling out access to its TV Everywhere platform, which includes several linear channels, to nonpay TV subscribers in some Latin American markets, such as Central America and Chile. The Movistar Play Full offer is available as a value-added service to Telefónica’s mobile and fixed broadband, and to voice subscribers for an extra fee.

Satellite broadband

Penetration of residential satellite broadband is set to increase as more Ka-band satellites become available in the region and new operators enter the market. Hughes Communications Inc. continued to expand its HughesNet service, launched in Brazil in 2016 and Colombia in 2017, to Peru and Ecuador during 2018. Competitors Al Yah Satellite Communication Co. PJSC and ViaSat Inc. also began operating in the Brazilian market during 2018, while satellite operator Hispasat SA launched a white-label service in the region.

Dish México announced it would partner with Hispasat SA and Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. to launch satellite broadband service in Mexico. Dish México will leverage Amazonas 5, Hispasat's high-throughput satellite, to reach underserved markets. Amazonas 5 has the potential to reach 77% of Mexico's population. The broadband service will use Gilat's SkyEdge II-c platform to provide high-value services to Mexican consumers and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Already a client? Please click here and here to learn more about satellite broadband service offers currently available in Latin America.

Argentina quad-play

Following new regulations allowing telcos to offer multichannel services, Claro Argentina and Telefónica de Argentina SA launched IPTV offers during 2018, but coverage remains limited, as convergent services were initially only permitted in the major cities of Buenos Aires, Rosário and Córdoba, in order to protect small operators in other regions. In 2019, this will be expanded to cities with populations below 600,000. Delays in passing a telecoms reform bill allowing telcos to offer DTH may lead the two companies to abandon plans for a national satellite pay TV offer, choosing to focus on high-end convergent services based on their growing fiber networks.

Meanwhile, Argentina's largest player, Telecom Argentina, will be allowed to offer convergent services only in 2019, as part of antitrust regulators' restrictions for approval of its merger with Cablevisión Argentina.

IPTV gets a boost from new Telefónica strategy

Telefónica made a strategic decision during 2017 to prioritize investments in fiber deployments to power ultrafast broadband and IPTV services, as well as expanding its VOD portfolio for fiber-based subscribers with STB-embedded over-the-top services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Based on this, as well as the continued entry of new players and migration of many existing telco and cable networks to fiber, we revised our IPTV forecast up for 2019.

Regulatory outlook

In Brazil and Argentina, "mini-reform" bills for the telecommunications industry remain stalled in Congress but are expected to finally be approved in 2019. Argentina's "Ley Corta," as it became known for being a reduced version of the government's originally proposed telecoms reforms, allows telcos to offer direct-to-home services in major cities starting in 2020, with gradual expansion to smaller towns up to 2022. Although passed by the Senate in July 2018, the bill, which also bans exclusive network agreements in order to encourage network sharing, among other measures, still awaits voting in the Chamber of Deputies.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian Senate is expected to resume discussions on the PLC 79 bill, which have been frozen since 2016. The reform would require telcos Telefônica Brasil and Oi SA to migrate their public fixed telephony concession contracts to a private service authorization contract, as is the case with their mobile and broadband businesses. In exchange, the companies would have to invest in broadband expansion the value of the public fixed telephony infrastructure they would be incorporating. The value of these "reversionary assets" and where these investments should be made are to be defined by the regulator Anatel and may take a year to implement. The PLC 79 bill also tackles several other measures favored by the industry, including a reduction in tariffs for satellite broadband services, which is expected to encourage more competitive prices, allowing telcos to sell spectrum assets and exempting broadcasters from regulatory tariffs.

The Mexican Congress reduced the annual budget for the telecommunications regulator, Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones, or IFT, by 25% compared to 2018. The budget cut would weaken the IFT amid regulatory battles with América Móvil SAB de CV's Teléfonos de México SA de CVand other important Mexican players.

Already a client? Click here to access the full article.

Global Multichannel is a service of Kagan, a group within S&P Global Market Intelligence's TMT offering.

This piece was published by S&P Global Market Intelligence and not by S&P Global Ratings, which is a separately managed division of S&P Global.

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Listen: Street Talk Episode 37 - Keep 'Marge' Happy — How To Win The Battle For Deposits

Jan. 14 2019 — The competition for deposits is quite fierce and banks might even feel the greatest pressure when vying for large commercial customers. In the episode, Kelly Brown, CEO of American Deposit Management, a financial services firm that helps connect depositors with banks, talks about the competitive landscape and pricing in the market, while offering strategies to win new business.

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Technology, Media & Telecom
Latin American Multichannel Broadband Market 2018 Recap

Highlights

M&A activity drives consolidation in Central America

DIRECTV launched region’s first virtual multichannel service

Brazil multichannel continues losing DTH subscribers

Jan. 11 2019 — Latin America and the Caribbean are starting to show signs of economic recovery, which has helped the region's multichannel market return to growth despite continued direct-to-home losses in Brazil. Meanwhile, some telecommunications groups are acquiring operators in Central America to strengthen their competitive position and gain convergent capabilities. DIRECTV Latin America LLC for its part is honoring its traditions of innovation by introducing the region's first virtual multichannel service and 4K linear TV channel. In Colombia, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogotá SA ESP's, or ETB's, cost-cutting plan's early results are showing progress.

Economy

The Latin America and Caribbean economic environment seems to be stabilizing, with GDP expected to expand 1.7% in 2018, according to the World Bank. Recovering private consumption, investments and commodity exports should be primary drivers of economic stabilization. Consumer price inflation was 2.6% during 2017, according to World Bank data. However, unemployment remained at 8.3%, a high for the past 10 years, based on World Bank data.

Intense fluctuations in exchange rates in several Latin American markets during 2018, especially in Argentina and Venezuela, are expected to cause multichannel revenues expressed in dollars to drop by 6.1%. The year was also marked by political uncertainty, with elections in seven countries, including the region's largest markets, Brazil and Mexico.

Already a client? Please refer to the economy and multichannel affordability section of Latin America profile for more information. For in-depth analyses of the perspectives following presidential elections in Mexico and Brazil, refer to the articles linked here and here.

Regional

Following a slight drop in subscribers in 2017, mainly due to direct-to-home losses in Brazil, the Latin American multichannel market returned to growth in 2018, while fixed broadband continued to grow steadily, with broadband households expected to overtake multichannel households in the region by year-end 2018. IPTV adoption accelerated in 2018, boosted by Telefónica SA's, or TLF's, decision to upgrade its last mile to fiber, mainly in Brazil and Chile.

Already a client? Please refer to the cable, DTH and IPTV sections of Kagan's Latin America profile for more information, and the article linked here for an analysis of Latin America's top multichannel groups.

Latin America and the Caribbean has one of the lowest levels of fixed-broadband penetration among the global regions included in our analysis, ahead of only the Middle East and Africa estimated at 44.0% in 2018. Cable overtook DSL in 2018 to become the largest broadband technology platform in the region, while FTTP continues to gain market share rapidly.

Already a client? Please refer to the broadband section of Latin America profile for more information, and to the articles linked here for an analysis of Latin America's top broadband groups and here for an analysis of broadband speeds in the region's largest countries.

AT&T Inc. subsidiary DIRECTV, América Móvil SAB de CV, or AMX, and Grupo Televisa SAB were the top three multichannel providers in the region ranked by pay television revenue during 2017. The top three fixed-broadband providers in the region ranked by revenues were América Móvil, Telefónica and Oi SA.

Click here to find out more about our Latin America Multichannel & Broadband Market Overview report, which provides an in-depth group-specific analysis on the multichannel, broadband and telephony market in Latin America.

M&A

M&A activity slowed during 2018 in terms of values compared to 2017, when the merger of Telecom Argentina and Cablevisión Argentina was announced. The deal ranks as the Latin American multichannel market's second most important M&A transaction in the past four years, with an implied value of $11.08 billion. 2018's largest transaction, meanwhile, was Millicom International Cellular SA's acquisition of an 80% share in Panama's largest MSO, Cable Onda SA, at an implied value of $1.46 billion.

Consolidation was intense in Central America, with several acquisitions registered during the year, mostly by Millicom, which is already the leading operator in most markets in the region. In 2017, Liberty Global PLC announced it would divest its Latin American operations and in 2018, Liberty Latin America Ltd. became an independent company, launching an inorganic growth strategy with its largest operation, Chile's Vtr.Com Spa, in charge of seeking acquisition opportunities in the region, also with a focus on Central America. The company led M&A activity in the year with its announcement in February that it had acquired Costa Rica cable operator Cabletica SA, but was outmaneuvered by Millicom, which throughout the year bought several other key Central American assets that Liberty had an eye on.

TV Everywhere and virtual multichannel

In November 2018, DIRECTV launched Latin America's first virtual multichannel service, DIRECTV Go, in Chile and Colombia. The platform gives non-pay TV subscribers online access to over 80 live linear channels, as well as VOD content, through mobile apps or browsers for 19,990 Chilean pesos (13,490 Chilean pesos promotionally) or 80,000 Colombian pesos. Traditional multichannel subscribers to the operator's top premium packages are also given free access to the service. In Chile, online-only subscribers also have the option of acquiring premium programming as an add-on, whereas in Colombia the service is offered in a single package. The company is expected to expand DIRECTV Go to Argentina and other Latin American markets over the coming months.

The company was also the first to launch a permanent linear 4K channel in the region, with a commercial offer in six of its Latin American markets (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay) ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The channel will broadcast, in Ultra HD, live sports content from several international leagues as well as original programming and series and documentaries from third-party content providers.

Already a client? Please refer to the report tagged here for more information about global UHD deployments.

Cablevisión has also suggested that it may offer its TV Everywhere platform, Flow, to non-pay TV subscribers as a virtual multichannel service in the near future.

During 2018, content providers such as Fox Networks Group Inc., HBO Latin America Group (SM),Turner Broadcasting System Inc., Viacom Inc. and Sony Entertainment Television continued expanding their offerings of TV Everywhere platforms to non-multichannel subscribers as stand-alone over-the-top services across the region, mainly through partnerships with mobile and broadband operators, but also through mobile app stores and third-party OTT aggregators such as Clarovideo. New OTT and VMC platforms launched across Latin America may put a strain on the pay TV market.

Already a client? Please refer to the report tagged here for more information about content partnerships with mobile carriers.

Mexico: Grupo Televisa not an agent with substantial power

The IFT, Mexico's telecommunications regulator, retracted Televisa's designation as an agent with substantial power in the pay TV market in March 2018. The IFT designated Televisa as an agent with substantial power in the pay TV market after Mexico's Supreme Court asked the regulator to review a previous ruling in 2017. However, a final ruling on this issue by Mexico's Supreme Court ordered the IFT to review the designation based on a new set of conditions. As a result of the new analysis, the IFT determined Televisa did not have substantial power in the Mexican pay TV market. The designation would have obligated Televisa to share its infrastructure, limit its growth in some markets, set pricing structures that promote competition and pay retrans fees to FTA channels.

Since overtaking Brazil in 2017, Mexico remains Latin America's largest multichannel market. In fixed broadband, the country ranks second, behind Brazil.

Already a client? Please refer to the Mexico country profile for more information on its multichannel and broadband market, and to the article here, for an in-depth analysis of the Mexican broadband market's revenues and ARPUs.

Brazil: Multichannel operators continue losing subs

For the first time since 2014, Brazil, Latin America's largest market, is projected to see subscriber growth in 2018, albeit slightly, as DTH operators continue to shed low-income subscribers as a result of the recent economic crisis. Continued political and economic instability has prompted a sharp deceleration of the multichannel market in Brazil. Brazilian pay TV operators have lost an estimated 1.4 million subscribers since 2014, with revenues expressed in dollars dropping 27.4% in the same period, also impacted by currency devaluation. The crisis does not seem to affect the broadband market, though, as the country's fixed-broadband operations added 6.4 million subscribers between 2014 and 2018.

In December 2018, Brazil also completed its planned analog switch-off and migration to digital terrestrial television in major cities, reaching an estimated 63.7% of Brazilian households. In smaller towns where carriers do not have plans to launch 4G services using the 700 MHz frequency, analog switch-off is expected to occur by 2023 but may take longer since the distribution of DTT set-top boxes will no longer be subsidized. There are also concerns among market players that local broadcasters may not be able to afford the migration to digital transmission by that date.

Brazil is Latin America's second-largest multichannel market, behind Mexico, and largest broadband market.

Click here for an in-depth analysis of the Brazilian broadband market's revenues and ARPUs.

Already a client? Please refer to the Brazil country profile for more information on its multichannel and broadband market, and to the article here for the complete article on the Brazilian broadband market's revenues and ARPUs.

Argentina: Operators begin to offer convergent services while currency crisis puts investments on hold

The Cablevisión/Telecom Argentina merger between Argentina's largest cable operator and telco was effective Jan. 1, 2018, the same date that new regulations allowing telcos to offer video services over "physical link" in Argentina also came into effect. Initially, convergent services were permitted only in the major cities of Buenos Aires, Rosário and Córdoba, in order to protect small operators in other regions. In cities with populations below 600,000, this was delayed to 2019.

The deal was approved by antitrust regulators in June 2018, but the approval came with restrictions, which include a delay for permission to offer convergent quad-play services to 2019, while competitors were allowed to do so as of 2018. The operator must also sell off its fixed-broadband business in 28 areas of the country where the merger could affect competition. Telecommunications regulator ENACOM also imposed conditions regarding spectrum caps and infrastructure sharing in regions where the two companies have a high market concentration in broadband.

The new regulations also allowed AMX's Claro Argentina and TLF's Telefónica de Argentina SA to enter the pay TV market in 2018. Both companies launched IPTV services in the country during 2018, leveraging their existing fiber-to-the-home networks, and may launch DTH satellite services in the future, pending congressional approval of a bill expanding permission to offer pay TV over wireless platforms. The law would allow these convergent DTH services in major cities starting in 2020, with gradual expansion to smaller towns up to 2022. Although passed by the Senate in July 2018, the bill still awaits voting in the Chamber of Deputies. Both América Móvil and Telefónica already provide DTH services in Latin America, and permission to do so in Argentina would significantly reduce the cost and time-to-market for their new services.

Argentina is Latin America's third-largest multichannel and broadband market.

Already a client? Please refer to the Argentina country profile for more information on its multichannel and broadband market, and to the article here for an in-depth analysis of the Argentinean broadband market's revenues and ARPUs.

Colombia: ETB cuts costs to improve its financials while sale is on hold

Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogotá's sale is on hold after a Colombian judge ruled that the municipality did not follow the appropriate process to approve the privatization project. Meanwhile, ETB has been implementing an austerity plan since 2017. As part of this plan, ETB shrank its channel lineup during 2017, reducing its programming costs significantly. ETB's 2017 results show the austerity plan is starting to pay off, with programming cost as a percentage of average revenue per user dropping in 2017.

Colombia is Latin America's fourth-largest multichannel and broadband market.

Already a client? Please refer to the Colombia country profile for more information on its multichannel and broadband market, and to the article here for an in-depth analysis of the Colombian broadband market's revenues and ARPUs.

Peru: Operators cannot charge for set-top-boxes

OSIPTEL, the Peruvian telecommunications regulator, prohibited the sale or lease of set-top-boxes in March 2018. Installation expenses can be financed in a maximum of six monthly installments. As a result, operators increased installation fees. Telefónica del Perú SAA increased its installation fees to 309.5 Peruvian soles for cable, up 74.7% from 177.15 soles in 2017. Claro Perú started charging the same installation fee with the possibility of paying in six monthly installments of 51.6 soles.

Peru is Latin America's seventh-largest multichannel and broadband market.

Already a client? Please refer to the Peru country profile for more information on its multichannel and broadband market.

Already a client? Click here to access the full article.

Global Multichannel is a service of Kagan, a group within S&P Global Market Intelligence's TMT offering

This article was published by S&P Global Market Intelligence and not by S&P Global Ratings, which is a separately managed division of S&P Global.

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