The launch of two analog terrestrial broadcasters in Spain — Sogecable’s Cuatro and Imagina/Televisa’s LaSexta — has quickened the race for the acquisition of international product, especially U.S. dramas.
Underscoring their growing impact on Spanish TV, the market share of international dramas — mainly from the U.S. — on Spanish free-to-air channels was 6% in the 2004-05 season and 9% in 2005-06, per audience research company Corporacion Multimedia.
U.S. dramas are avalanching new channels. Last May, as the TV season ended, La Sexta was airing “Surface,” “Law & Order,” “The Sopranos” and “Third Watch” in weekday primetime, while Cuatro broadcast “House,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Crossing Jordan,” “Las Vegas” and “Ghost Whisperer.”
“Series tie audiences down, create brands. If you pick up a franchise series, you have a years-long brand,” says Mercedes Gamero, Antena 3’s head of acquisitions and sales.
“House” averaged a healthy 2.2 million viewers and 12% share, helping to establish Cuatro on the Spanish TV scene, but the highest ratings for U.S. drama still belong to Telecinco’s “CSI” franchises: “CSI: NY” (3.9 million and 23% share), “CSI: Miami” (3.5 million/24%) and the original (3.9 million/25%).
“Six channels are now eyeballing North American product. That’s too many outlets and not enough product. We’ll have to open others markets,” says Jose Miguel Contreras, La Sexta’s CEO.
“We’re keyed into what’s being produced in the U.K., France, Germany and Italy. We’ll have to widen our range,” agrees Ghislain Barrois, Telecinco’s head of acquisitions.
As in 2004-05, the Mediaset-controlled Telecinco was the most-watched network in Spain, reaching a 21% share. The 2005-06 season saw ratings plunge at TVE-1, the commercial channel of troubled pubcaster RTVE, which took a historic low of 19%.
Per Barrois, as at other Mipcoms, Telecinco will be on the lookout for TV movies, miniseries and series, plus two- to four-hour daily programming packages to strengthen brand at its DTT channel Telecinco Estrellas.
TOP 3 SHOWS
- “Aqui no hay quien viva,” Antena 3
- “Hospital central,” Telecinco
- “Aida,” Telecinco