EchoStar, Vivendi to Form Brazilian Pay-TV J.V.

EchoStar Technologies and Vivendi subsidiary GVT have set plans in motion to form a pay-TV joint venture in Brazil.

Though still in the discussion phase, GVT and EchoStar said the resulting joint venture would be headquartered in Brazil and managed by GVT. The anticipated IPTV video service would combine GVT’s IP network with EchoStar’s satellite and video technology and its Brazilian licenses.

They didn’t announce an anticipated timeline, noting that the deal is subject to the execution of definitive agreements and corporate and governmental approvals.

“The objective is to offer a national service based on IPTV and a unique high power satellite to provide leading edge features, quality and reliability to consumers,” the companies said, in a release.

In Brazil, they’ll be looking to target a growing pay-TV market. Brazil was home to 16.2 million pay-TV subscribers by the end of 2012 following the addition of 3.44 million new signups during the year, according to Telegeography’s analysis of Asociacion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Anatel) data. Direct-to-home technology accounted for 60.8% of the total sub base, while cable-based technology accounted for 38.29% of the nation’s  pay-TV subs.

Among competitors, the EchoStar/GVT venture will come up against DirecTV’s Sky Brasil unit, which recently found that it had inflated its sub count in the market by 200,000, a mistake that will cost DirecTV about $25 million.

GVT, a telecom operator in Brazil founded in 2000, operates in 146 cities there and most recently entered Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city. It initially launched pay-TV services in 2012 via a hybrid of satellite TV channels with interactive features delivered on its terrestrial network. It has about 500,000 pay-TV subs.

EchoStar, spun off from corporate cousin Dish Network in late 2007, operates satellite-based TV and broadband services, develops and sells set-tops, and is the parent of Sling Media, the video place-shifting pioneer.