ECUADOR - Telecoms & IT
CEO, Directv Ecuador
Fernando Ferro Albornoz joined DIRECTV Ecuador in January 2014 as the Legal Director, then in December 2015 he became the CEO. His current position involves leading the company’s operation in the country. He holds a Law Degree from Universidad Central del Ecuador and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a Minor in Finance from Universidad San Francisco de Quito. He has more than 20 years of experience in the Telecommunications sector, especially in the Regulatory Area. During this time, he has also fostered a good relationship with the Ecuadorian government, given his previous positions in this industry.
We have to differentiate between the product we are selling and the market we are selling it to. In 2015, the Ecuadorian market share was 31%, and we now have 45% of the market. We are without a doubt the largest pay TV company in the country. In 2010, we launched two products that are basically the same product but for two different segments: previous payment and prepaid (rechargeable service). The business sells entertainment, and we have a constant battle to provide entertainment that attracts clients. Soccer has been a resounding success; everyone in Ecuador who watched the World Cup did so with Directv. For soccer fans the only way they were able to watch the entire World Cup was through Directv who broadcasted all 64 matches live and which 32 of them were exclusive to Directv. The rest of TV providers only had access to half of the World Cup games – 32 matches. This World Cup also allowed us to demonstrate another one of our products: DGO streaming service. This product has been extremely successful, and in just one day in Ecuador we had 200,000 viewers. Our business and growth are aligned with the needs of Ecuadorian subscribers, who are looking for sports and local news. Directv gives subscribers access to sports and also provides a digital platform where the user chooses how and where to watch it, (through their mobile phone, tablet, smart TV or a computer). For 2023 we have the rights to entire tournaments locally only on DIRECTV: Sudamericana Sub-20; Superliga Femenina Directv; Copa Mitad del Mundo (local tournament organized by Independiente del Valle); La Liga Española; La Copa del Rey; Recopa Sudamericana; Copa Sudamericana; and the Giro de Italia (with an ecuatorian participant Richard Caparaz). Through strategic partners we also offer: La Liga Pro (Ecuadorian League); The Premier League; Serie A; and the Bundesliga. As well as a wide selection of sports like tennis, basketball, cycling and fights in order to suit all tastes of our users. Regarding growth, in 2015 we were focused on prepaid (rechargeable service) product, though we are now currently stronger in previous payment and DGO. Directv had to change the way we worked to suit the market and the stiff competition especially piracy. In November 2021, we were acquired by the Werthein Group, and the first thing they looked at was the sustainability of our growth. We began to offer our own programs related to sports, news, and children’s entertainment. We have our own women’s league cup which is exclusive to Directv. We show news that is close to the consumer because this is what is of interest to subscribers. We continue to grow, though it was important for us to adapt to the changes within the market to our current growth so it may be more sustainable over time.
Women’s soccer is currently gaining greater interest. When the final of women’s soccer tournament Superliga Femenina Directv, was held in Cuenca in 2021, the stadium was packed, and the event was a success where Directv bet to develop in Ecuador something that seemed impossible a few years ago. Another example of how we bet for the future of sports in our county is the production and broadcast of Copa Mitad del Mundo, where Independiente del Valle, our strategically, organizes an under-20s championship where different countries of the region participate. We have to continue to support these projects in the long term. Currently, soccer is the most-watched sport in Ecuador, followed by fighting and cycling. The fourth-most watched is tennis, which was overtaken by cycling. We have to give subscribers what they want, and there is a high demand for live TV. Live TV is something that we can provide that other providers like Netflix cannot: viewers will not watch a soccer game after knowing the results.
One of the challenges is that everyone gets excited about everything, and we have to make sure that each project is sustainable. We have had Escuela Plus for about 10 years and continue to work on it. We opened up a specific channel with content of Escuela Plus to all our subscribers in order to help parents entertain and educate their children while watching TV especially during the pandemic. This year, we will work on various projects that involve sports and education helping the community by building not only a soccer field for their kids but also the construction of several schools in different areas of the country so kids from those communities can have a better access to education. We also have another project that involves giving air time to foundations or non-profit organizations that focus on sports, education, or the environment in order to fulfill their dreams, and give them access to receive help from subscribers and viewers that are willing to donate money for their causes. One of the most important things is looking at how we can benefit local communities through our educational program in the long term.
We must maintain permanent contact with the content preferences of our clients, as well as look for content that suits them best and continue to improve technologically to offer the best service in the country. We are expanding the services we offer, where we hope to introduce quality internet service in the first half of this year, just as we are doing on pay TV. We will continue supporting long-term social projects that leave a mark in Ecuador.
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