MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - America Movil expects to double its pay television customers in Latin America to 22 million by the end of 2013, according to projections from a company source with direct knowledge of the growth outlook.
The source told Reuters on Monday the company, owned by billionaire Carlos Slim, expected to add 3.5 million pay TV customers in 2012 and another 4.5 million in 2013.
America Movil has picked up 11 million pay TV customers in 16 of 18 Latin American nations over the past two years and the company has previously said it could add 3 million pay TV clients in 2011.
The growth projections highlight America Movil's ambitious expansion plans as it moves into new markets away from its core phone business.
The undisputed top mobile phone provider in the region, with 225 million clients, America Movil is taking advantage of still low penetration of pay TV services in many nations.
The company source, who asked not to be named, said Brazil and Colombia will spearhead pay TV growth for the next few years.
"As of the end of last year, (pay TV) penetration in Brazil was 17 percent," he said, compared with rates of 40 percent in Chile and 60 percent in Argentina.
In Colombia, pay TV has a penetration of just 26 percent, the source added.
America Movil's closest regional competitors in the field include DIRECTV, which has around 6 million subscribers, Telefonica and Mexico's Grupo Televisa.
Mexico -- where the government has refused to let Slim expand into media due to competition concerns -- and Argentina are the two countries where the world's richest man does not currently have a presence in TV.
Spain's Telefonica tracks behind America Movil in the core phone business.
America Movil shares slipped 0.17 percent to close at 34.77 pesos on Monday. Its New York-traded shares fell 0.5 percent to $58.60.
Reporting by Cyntia Barrera Diaz; editing by Carol Bishopric