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How Television Works in Mexico for Expats and Visitors

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Maria O'Connor blogs for Expats In Mexico from Puerto Vallarta
Maria O’Connor

One of the first questions I’m asked by aspiring expats who are just making the move to Mexico or simply visiting is how can they watch their favorite TV programs or follow their sports teams. Since the March Madness college basketball tournament begins this week, I thought I’d give you a rundown on how television works in Mexico.

When I first moved here I didn’t have a TV. I wasn’t home much anyway and there wasn’t anything I really missed that much. When I wanted to watch my team play, I would go to a local sports bar where I could see most any sporting event with play-by-play in English. That’s still pretty much the case today but TV in Mexico has evolved quite a bit since the early 90s. Now there are more options than ever for those who can’t miss an episode of their favorite series or a big game.

So here’s how television works in Mexico today. Cable television is widely available throughout Mexico, especially in the cities. In Puerto Vallarta, the decades-old Telecable service was recently replaced by IZZI, a cable service owned by media giant Televisa. It offers a wide range of channels in both Spanish and in English. The basic service will run you around US$18.00 a month and you can add premium channels such as HBO and FOX for a little bit more.

Some people opt for dish services such as DISH or SKY, which can be a little pricier than cable but generally offer more channels. There are also people who provide dish services through Canadian providers such as Shaw, which would be programming almost exclusively in English and French. The service is generally available in tourist areas. The one disadvantage with any of the satellite television services is rain. When it rains, the signal often goes out or is weakened.

The latest technology has also hit Mexico through Internet streaming television. Devices like AppleTV, ROKU and Slingbox make watching your favorite programs as easy as having a fast internet connection. Once you purchase the device (they go for around US$100 or less), you only pay for the channels you want and if you have a cable television service in the U.S., you can use your account in Mexico to access most premium channels like HBO, Amazon, CBS Access, Showtime and of course, Netflix. One channel, USTVNOW, is a channel that was created primarily for overseas service personnel and their families and it provides the basic U.S.-based channels of ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CW and FOX free of charge and offers additional channels such as CNN, Lifetime, TBS, etc… with paid packages.

Finally, there are still free over-the-air channels available in Mexico. Televisa and TVAzteca own the big ones from Mexico City. They provide some entertaining programming, and don’t forget, watching Mexican television can be a great way to improve your Spanish!