MEXICO CITY — For many years, the top Contemporary Hit Radio station in Guadalajara, Morelia and beach cities such as Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta was part of a network of stations with a brand very familiar to American ears.
Radio Disney was a true winner among teens and young adults, with a recipe quite different from the Disney Channel promotional machine that aired on U.S. radio stations until its shift to a digital-centric, Sirius XM-exclusive offering.
But, times change. With three direct format competitors and an impressive surge in Spotify consumption in key market Mexico City, a partnership that brought Radio Disney to Mexico is nearing its conclusion.
In an official statement distributed Thursday (12/26), The Walt Disney Company Mexico confirmed its “disengagement” with Mexican radio giant Grupo ACIR.
The companies “decided by common accord” to end the relationship that united them in the development of the Radio Disney format in Mexico.
In Mexico City, it means XHPOP-FM 99.3 will soon be making a change. The same can be said of nine other stations that will shift from Radio Disney to a new brand that Grupo ACIR is calling Match.
CHR/Pop programming will remain across the renamed network; streaming will be provided via iHeartRadio, which already offers Grupo ACIR stations on its platform in Mexico and the U.S.
“Both companies thank all the people who gave life to this project, especially the listeners and advertisers,” Grupo ACIR and Disney said in a join Spanish-language statement.
In Mexico City, the 99.3 MHz frequency first came to life in 1977 and has been offering Top 40 tunes for nearly all of its life. From November 1988-August 2013, it was “Digital 99.3,” using a brand found in Tijuana and heard in the San Diego market.
On Oct. 9, 2013, “Radio Disney” arrived on XHPOP.
In a separate statement, Disney commented, “After having shared a first stage full of successes and great moments, Radio Disney Mexico prepares for a next step. This 2020 we will have news for you and soon we will be back with new coordinates so that we continue to live the music as always: together. Your radio, your music and your artists will continue to be closer to you. Through our social networks we will tell you all the news, keep notifications active to be the first to find out.”
It is not clear if Radio Disney will resurface on a FM frequency or go digital-only, as it is in the U.S.
For Match, the official relaunch comes Jan. 7. Automated programming is telling listeners across the network of the impending rebranding.
The rebranding could help Grupo ACIR bring in an older audience that eschewed Radio Disney simply for its branding; Radio Disney largely attracted listeners under the age of 25. Now, ACIR has the potential to offer Mexicans a potent group of networks that includes MIX — a home for 80s, 90s and 2000s pop/rock widely consumed by 35+ audiences — and Amor, a gold-based Spanish-language Soft Adult Contemporary network.
Competitors to Match include MVS Radio‘s EXA brand, which is popular among those in their young 20s; PRISA giant Los 40, a Talk/Entertainment heavy giant among adults 25-45; and NRM Comunicaciones‘ locally focused Top 40 station, XEOYE-FM “Oye 89.7.”
However, the bigger competitor for not only Match but for all Top 40 radio networks in Mexico City is perhaps Spotify.
According to November 2018 data from the streaming audio giant, Mexico City “is now the world’s music-streaming mecca.”
It says, “Mexico City has the most listeners on Spotify globally, ahead of Santiago, Chile, and New York City … Mexico City has evolved in a few short years from being Spotify’s first-ever Latin American market, in 2013, to our largest listener base worldwide today.”