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Football in Latin America is proving to be the joga bonito both on the pitch and on screen as the region has attracted record TV rights income, surpassing the $1 billion mark for the first time.

Research carried out by Dataxis, Soccer broadcast rights and sports TV channels in Latin America 2013, revealed a total of 116 different dedicated TV channels broadcasting sports programming in Latin America's seven main TV markets at the end of 2012. In total, the local football federations of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru attracted a combined $1.07 billion in TV revenues in 2012, a 56% year-on-year increase.

Looking at individual territories, broadcast rights for the Brasileirao Brazilian football league outscored rivals by a considerable margin with its more than $610 million in rights for 2012 accounting for nearly 57% of the regional total. Mexico was the country exhibiting the largest number of HD sports channels in the region (12), followed by Colombia (8) and Chile (7). Argentina (DeporTV), Brazil (Esporte Interativo) and Venezuela (Meridiano TV) were the only countries to have a free to air FTA sports TV channel. Both Esporte Interactivo and Meridiano TV were carried by some of the local pay-TV operators.

Football was also beginning to go over-the-top (OTT) in Latin America with services in Brazil and Chile launching in the second half of 2012. In Brazil Esporte Interativo Plus offered a subscription-based service featuring live coverage of multiple sports, while in the Andean nation Estadio CDF was exclusively dedicated to football. Dataxis also found that high definition sports TV networks were fast gaining space in the channel line-ups of all of the large pay-TV operators.

"Different local federations and professional football associations are currently experimenting with different business models to commercialise broadcast rights in Latin America," explained Juan Pablo Conti, senior analyst at Dataxis and author of the report. "However, regardless of the approach they have been adopting, they have all been increasingly successful in making their margins grow."

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