In “Thinking Globally” Michael Curtin states “markets are made, not given” (116). Prevailing sociopolitical and cultural contexts simultaneously influence and are changed by communications media. Technological innovation typically derives from prevailing social relations and cultural forms that condition the selection, investment and development of the media. Then the relationship becomes reciprocal. The latest reorganization takes a multitude of forms. It urges us not to proclaim an end to TV, but one more transmogrification of a medium that has been the major audiovisual entertainment industry and source of information in the region during the last six decades.
Latin Americans watch more television than ever before. With the spread of diverse options in the region for watching TV and video in the emerging digital era, dating from about 2010, what we might call the televisual world of Latin América is expanding, not contracting, as audiences experience different screens and audiovisual possibilities. For example, the average Peruvian spends nine hours a day in front of various screens enjoying a variety of formats. In Brazil, the figure is eight hours, and seven in Mexico. That’s a third of one’s life.
Of course, quantity is not the only significant factor. In qualitative terms, viewers mix several televisual options: established genres, such as telenovelas and dramatic series; professional and amateur videos; sports, most notably football; and films that may be either industrial or artisanal. For research reasons, these texts are often separated by genres and platforms, but if they are to be understood holistically as contemporary audience.
In Latin America, as in many other places, distinctions between the use of a variety of screen and types of service like free, subscription, broadcast, video on demand, computers, smart TVs, and other digital devices are not hard and fast. Rather, there is a flow across the categories, with differences established as social practices rather than technological essences. The latest data also confirm that Latin Americans watch TV in this broad sense with others—that the norm is collective viewing, across genres and media, due in part to the need to share resources in a zone where wealth is so unevenly skewed. This adds to the cultural embeddedness of the medium and its orality.
Of Latin America’s six hundred million people, approximately half have encountered the internet, with growth of over 1,700% between 2000 and 2015. That puts the region just ahead of the Arab world and the global average, and well beyond the percentage of people who have experienced connection in Asia or Africa. So what does this says about the internet market in Latin America?