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Latin Media Leaders: Enrique R. Martinez, Discovery Latin America

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

ENRIQUE R. MARTINEZ, PRESIDENT AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, DISCOVERY NETWORKS LATIN AMERICA/US HISPANIC

Enrique Martinez has, in almost two decades at Discovery, stewarded it to become a cornerstone of the pay TV industry in Latin America and it now operates in 44 countries, in three languages, reaching 256 million subscribers. He has been at the company’s Latin division since its launch in 1994 and was elevated from executive VP to president and managing director in 2001.

 

Discovery Networks Latin America now comprises 14 networks, including Discovery Channel, Discovery Kids, Animal Planet, Discovery Home & Health and TLC, and there are a further two in the US Hispanic division, Discovery en Español and Discovery Familia, which Martinez also oversees.

Within Discovery Communications, Latin America is the fastest-growing division and beyond his role at the company Martinez has shaped the wider industry with, for example, his efforts to ensure key players are addressing piracy issues.

Under Martinez’s leadership, Discovery Channel has been the leading factual offering in the region for 10 years straight in Latin America and Home & Health is the top female-skewing channel while the likes of Discovery Kids are mainstays of the pay TV world.

As pay TV in the US and some other markets reaches maturity, penetration in Latin America remains at a level where there is still enormous potential for growth. Martinez is bullish on the prospects for the whole pay TV industry in Latin America although he suggests the growth witnessed in recent years will level off.

“Pay TV growth will continue over the next five years, but it won’t be at the level of the last two or three,” he says. “After the success of piracy eradication and Brazil blowing up after being stuck at 11% pay TV penetration, it will have to slow down, but there is still real growth to come. There is 40% pay TV penetration in the region and I see no reason it can’t go to 50% in the next few years.”

Discovery was out of the gate early with high definition and as pay platforms in the region launch and bulk up their HD offerings this is a priority for the company. “We got in early on with Discovery HD Theater and TLC in HD in 2009 and added three more HD services, Home & Health, ID and Discovery Channel simulcast in HD in 2012,” Martinez says.

Another key part of Discovery Networks Latin America’s 2012 success story was getting feet on the ground in key territories. Based in Miami, Discovery Lat-Am already has offices in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, New York and LA and last year set up a base in Bogota.

“Colombia is growing significantly, we have been able to diminish piracy and there is now an appetite to invest in that market,” Martinez explains. “We used to have ad sales reps there, but last January we opened up an office and put people on the ground.”

Martinez also took the decision to deepen Discovery’s presence in Brazil. “We also opened up in Rio,” he says. “We think there are ad dollars there and there is also a good creative community. We wanted to develop relationships with Rio production houses, especially in the area of lifestyle.”

With a wealth of channel real estate in hand around the world, Discovery has taken to rebranding and repositioning networks in recent years and this has also been happening in Latin America, with LIV repositioned as Investigation Discovery in mid-2012.

“LIV wasn’t doing as well as we would have liked so we took it and converted it over to Investigation Discovery, which had proved hugely successful in the US,” Martinez explains.

Unlike the US version of the channel, the decision was made to maintain key scripted series that fit the brand including CBS-distributed series Hawaii Five-O and Dexter while ditching the comedies that were previously carried on LIV. The launch was a big success. Martinez says: “We kept some of the entertainment elements of LIV and launched the new network in July and have seen a 57% increase in ratings since then.”

Under the leadership of Luis Silberwasser, Discovery has made great efforts to generate new original programming for its international networks in recent years. The international group’s One Car Too Far format was all filmed in Chile.

Discovery Latin America’s 2012 programming highlights included a local version of Dual Survival in Brazil and 5 de mayo: un dia de gloria a doc about the Mexican army’s victory over the French occupying forces on May 5, 1862. The show featured a full-scale reconstruction of the battle.

This year is about consolidating and building on the wide-ranging offering that has been created under the leadership of Martinez. He says: “The core focus this year needs to be really strengthening the 16 networks we currently have and to maintain our leadership position.”

 

LATIN MEDIA LEADERS 2012/13

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT: ENRIQUE R. MARTINEZ, DISCOVERY LAT-AM

MOST SUCCESSFUL US HISPANIC EXECUTIVE: CESAR CONDE, UNIVISION

MOST INFLUENTIAL INTERNATIONAL EXECUTIVE: HERNAN LOPEZ, FOX

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: PEDRO LEDA, LEADFILMS

MOST INFLUENTIAL PRODUCTION COMPANY: DANIEL GUTMAN, POWWOW

BEST TELENOVELA: EVA LUNA

BEST FORMAT: CAIGA QUIEN CAIGA, EYEWORKS CUATRO CABEZAS

BEST DOCUMENTARY: EXTREME PLANET, GLOBO TV

BEST FORMAT: CAIGA QUIEN CAIGA, EYEWORKS CUATRO CABEZAS

DIGITAL INNOVATOR: HBO LATIN AMERICA

BEST SCRIPTED FORMAT: TERMINALES