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Jorge Azzario

MEXICO - Telecoms & IT

In Focus

General Director, Cablevision

Bio

Jorge Azzario graduated from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores in Monterrey with a Master’s in Business Administration, and began his career as a Quality and Systems Manager at Tecniquimia Mexicana, a Quaker Quemical Company. He later joined Grupo Multimedios in 1992, a media conglomerate where he held various positions including Chief Technology Officer. He also founded Intercable, the first internet broadband provider in Latin America.

Can you tell us a bit about Cablevision’s background and the growth of cable television in Mexico? We were the first company in Latin America to provide not only high-speed […]

Can you tell us a bit about Cablevision’s background and the growth of cable television in Mexico?

We were the first company in Latin America to provide not only high-speed internet access back in 1995, but also high-speed metropolitan ethernet access to businesses. Innovation has always been in our DNA. We rapidly understood the need to shift from being a simple cable company offering entertainment, to becoming a business and carrier class multi-service operator (MSO) offering video, data, and telephony services across all market segments: residential, business, corporate companies, and other carriers. Convergence was clearly driving us to compete in a whole new scenario. To put in place state-of-the-art technology is one thing, but establishing the right mindset and culture within our human resources was the biggest challenge. Supported by our experience with carrier-class data services, we finally became an MSO in 2006 with the launch of telephony. We have built not only metropolitan fiber-optic rings to support these convergent services, but also regional fiber-optic networks, interconnecting every city in order to deploy new products and services faster. For Cablevision and practically the entire cable industry, it has been a 10-year run of consistent double-digit growth in revenues, EBITDA, and subscriber base.

How has consumer demand for cable services evolved over the past few years in Mexico?

Cable companies have been aggressively growing their networks and offering new, lower-priced services year after year in order to participate in the race for acquiring new customers, especially in driving the need for cable services to customers who had never enjoyed them before. Bundling cable television with high-speed internet and later telephony changed the market conditions and drove cable companies’ growth in a very positive way. Average consumers today are demanding higher broadband speeds, video on second and third screens, social networking experiences through different devices, and lower prices for telephony. Cable companies have been very successful in addressing these needs, especially because Mexico has been among the top five countries with the most expensive telephone service in the world, and very low average broadband speeds within Latin America. In the chase for free satellite television from the US and later cable premium channels, piracy has become a trend in the northern states, where the influence of the “American way” is strong. We are also addressing these challenges with new strategies.

How do you persuade people to subscribe to cable television rather than pirating services?

Bundling cable television with high-speed internet and telephony, in what is known as “Triple-Play,” has been our main strategy to address this issue, and customers also realize the value of customer service once they engage with us. We have been strongly investing in technology to fully digitize the video content that runs through our networks, requiring customers to use a digital set-top box with every TV providing access to hundreds of channels and interesting features, all at a much better quality. Meanwhile, we have made solid investments to increase our network’s capacity exponentially.

How are challenges such as rising cable costs impacting the market?

The rising costs for cable companies are mainly driven by two factors: the global rise of sports entertainment rights and the increasing negotiating power from content companies, which have also been consolidating in order to achieve higher prices and increase the distribution of new channels. In our market, not only have prices to consumers not increased in several years due to fierce competition, but also the average revenue per service has decreased consistently over this period. This combination makes MSOs like cable companies and others face the constant challenge of controlling overall costs.

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