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Shoppers’ delight

Latins arrive with wish list that includes sports, docs and reality

NATPE can once again expect a strong influx of Latin buyers and sellers to the Vegas venue.

With the worst of their economic crises a distant memory, Latino broadcasters will be trawling the confab for the latest and trendiest programming to supplement their staple of movies — mainly action, family and comedy — and skeins.

Soccer-themed programs head their wish list as the World Cup looms. Less costly docudramas and retro-programming are also growing more popular.

At Venezuelan web Televen, ratings shot up after net programmed such old-timers as syndie giant “Baywatch.” Mexico’s No. 1 web, Televisa, and some Central American terrestrial channels are mulling the launch of doc blocks to tap into the growing interest in the genre, thanks to the groundbreaking success of “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Super Size Me.”

Panregional channels continue to demand U.S. reality shows while the terrestrials have a strong appetite for movies and docudramas, notes Sheila Hall Aguirre, FremantleMedia VP of sales for Latin America and U.S. Hispanic.

FremantleMedia has done brisk business with “Mr. Bean” comedy skein and new talent formats such as “X Factor,” which doubled its aud share at Colombian web RCN. FremantleMedia also is selling “Showtime,” a song-and-dance format that’s picking up heat in the region. Artear Argentina acquired BBC format “Dancing With the Stars” for 2006.

“Latino terrestrials are learning to strike a balance between canned programming and original productions,” Aguirre says. Broadcasters fill at least half of their programming skeds with inhouse product, with a few exceptions, and Artear fills 70% of its programming with inhouse shows.

Globo, Brazil’s leading net, is seeking animation shorts, feature films, funny homevideo clips, formats and sports programming, according to programming chief Roberto Buzzoni.

For Televisa, programming VP Alberto Ciurana says, “We need to fill our four channels with films, series, cartoons and reality shows, but the World Cup and local elections in July could alter our programming this year.”

Televisa’s recently renewed output deal with Warner Bros. also includes a new clause ramping up co-productions between the two companies. Televisa also has output deals with Universal, DreamWorks and Viacom.

MTV Networks expects to close deals with Central American nets for the Spanish subtitled version of MTV’s popular “Pimp My Ride,” currently airing on Televisa and MTV Brazil. The Viacom unit is selling MTV’s first reality drama, a Spanish-dubbed “Laguna Beach.” Sister net Nickelodeon expects martial arts-themed cartoon “Avatar” and slapstick comedy “Cat Scratch” as well as 20 new episodes of “SpongeBob SquarePants” to be hot sellers.

On the sales side, Latino broadcasters have begun to step up exports not just of telenovelas but formats for its soaps, reality and other skeins.

Argentine producers benefited from the 2002 currency devaluation when prices of their programs were slashed by two-thirds of their normal value. Exports became even more attractive and profitable. Industry-wide in Argentina, foreign programming sales more than doubled to 40,000 hours in 2004, compared with 2002.

Telenovelas have also made inroads in the tough U.S. market where ABC has committed to remaking RCN’s “Betty la fea” (Ugly Betty), while Fox’s Twentieth TV plans to adapt “Mesa para tres” (Table for Three), a telenovela from Colombia’s leading net, Caracol.

“We recently have noticed an increased worldwide interest in the telenovela in any of its forms, whether it be for remakes, the finished product or for co-production,” says Jose Antonio Espinal, marketing director of Venevision Intl. “U.S. broadcasters seem to be more open to risque material,” notes Globo’s Buzzoni.

TV Azteca has sold the format of its 4-year-old hourlong skein “Lo que callamos las mujeres” (Women’s Stories) to Malaysia and sold the original to Latin American and Eastern European webs. Company will be bringing new episodes in addition to the 850 already in the can.

“The series focuses on women’s issues, such as spousal abuse and breast cancer and has great social relevance and impact,” says Azteca international sales chief Marcel Vinay.

Azteca also is selling the formats of its top-rated talent show “La Academia” — which has been tweaked in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Indonesia and Malaysia — and “La vida es una cancion” (Life Is a Song), 300 one-hour episodes combining love stories and songs.

Televisa’s sales team, led by sales chief Carlos Castro, will be bringing three game and talent/reality-show formats to the confab: ratings buster “Bailando por un sueno” (Dancing for a Dream), “Cantando por un sueno” (Singing for a Dream) and “El Suerteudo” (Lucky).

Venevision is taking its erotic telenovela “Bellas y ambiciosas” (Beautiful and Ambitious) along with dramatic shorts “Necesito una amiga” (I Need a Friend) and more traditional novelas “Con toda el Alma” (With All My Soul) and “Olvidarte jamas” (I Will Never Forget You).

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