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Chile, Colombia Lead Latin American Internet, Cable Penetration

2 minute read | December 2010

Latin America endured the global recession much better than North America or Europe, and today it stands out as one of the stronger regions for economic growth.  The Nielsen Company recently conducted a study of four countries – Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico – to see how the increased affluence of consumers there has affected media penetration rates.

Chile led the group when it came to ownership of home computers and Internet penetration.  Computer ownership was up five points from the previous year to 57% and Internet penetration hit 41%, an increase of six points.  The biggest jumps, however, came from Brazil, where more than half (51%) of households now own computers, up from just 26% the year before, and Internet penetration rose 13 points to 31%.

“Brazil’s economic growth is driving consumption across most sectors as consumers have more money to spend, so this rise is not so surprising,” said Roberto Vazquez Ferrero, Managing Director of the telecom practice at Nielsen Latin America.

Internet penetration in Colombia was up five points to 29% while in Mexico, it rose three points to 24%.

Televisions are now ubiquitous in the four countries, with 98% of homes owning them.  Colombia is far-and-away the leader when it comes to cable TV – 81% of households have subscriptions.  Half (51%) of Chilean households subscribe to cable.  Meanwhile, just one-quarter of Brazilian homes and one-third of Mexican homes have cable.

“The main barrier to cable penetration is the cost of service.  I would expect cable penetration to rise in Brazil in the near term.  In Mexico, there are many cable operators with differing services.  As they package them in ways that combine TV and Internet, such as the double and triple play packages, we could see greater penetration as competition leads to lower prices,” said Vazquez.

2007 2008 2009
Conventional TV 100% 99% 98%
Subscription TV 41% 44% 51%
Internet 31% 35% 41%
Computer 49% 52% 57%

2007 2008 2009
Conventional TV 97% 95% 97%
Subscription TV 9% 16% 26%
Internet 17% 18% 31%
Computer 25% 26% 51%

2007 2008 2009
Conventional TV 98% 99% 98%
Subscription TV 78% 81% 81%
Internet 21% 24% 29%
Computer 4% 9% 13%

2007 2008 2009
Conventional TV 98% 98% 98%
Subscription TV 32% 35% 33%
Internet 17% 21% 24%
Computer 30% 33% 32%

Source: The Nielsen Company

Notes: Internet penetration refers to households that are serviced. It excludes users who use it outside the home (e.g. internet cafes, offices, etc.). In Colombia, computer penetration includes only laptops, not desktops

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