Soccer-Huge increase in broadcasting revenue in Latin America

Feb 28 (Reuters) - Revenue from soccer television broadcasting rights in Latin America's leading leagues increased a massive 56 percent in 2012, surpassing the billion dollar mark, a specialist report said.

The report by Dataxis said TV rights for first division matches in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru brought in $1.07 billion in a region traditionally not noted as being especially lucrative on the sports business front.

The rights to the Brazilian championship, played from May to December and known as the Brasileirao (Big Brazilian), were worth $610 million in 2012, nearly 57 percent of the total, Dataxis said in a statement.

Four countries, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico, were responsible for more than 90 percent of the 2012 figure, Buenos Aires-based Dataxis senior analyst Juan Pablo Conti told Reuters.

Conti, author of the 40-page report called "Soccer broadcast rights and sports TV channels in Latin America 2013", hinted at greater increases in the future, especially in Mexico.

"Mexico is a particular case because Televisa and TV Azteca share the whole TV market between them so the prices are not so high. But it's going to change," he said.

Conti said that "according to our estimates, the Argentine government paid about 915 million pesos ($212.5 million) during 2012 for the rights to broadcast the first and second division tournaments" on the state-run Futbol Para Todos (Football For All) programme. "This figure doesn't include production costs," he added.

He said there was an increase of more than 11 percent in match broadcasting revenue in Chile from 2011 to 2012.

Conti, quoted in the Dataxis statement, said: "Different local federations and professional football associations are currently experimenting with different business models to commercialise broadcast rights in Latin America.

"However, regardless of the approach they have been adopting, they have all been increasingly successful in making their margins grow."

Dataxis says on its website (< >) the report also found there are 116 TV channels dedicated exclusively to showing sports programmes in the seven major regional markets including Venezuela, where baseball rather than football is the biggest sport.

It adds that high definition (HD) sports channels are gaining increasing space. In 2012, Mexico was the leader with 12 HD sports channels, followed by Colombia with eight and Chile seven. (Reporting by Rex Gowar in London, editing by Pritha Sarkar)