Territory Reports: Latin America

Marginalized U.S. tries to break out

Local product remains king in Latin America, where most U.S. programs are relegated to early morning or latenight and weekend slots. But Stateside works are gaining traction in some spots.

Mexican juggernaut Televisa has stocked one of its four channels, Canal 5, with imported skeins and pics. In January, Canal 5 began expanding its schedule of U.S. shows from two hours nightly to eight (4 p.m. to midnight) and saw ratings jump more than 18%.

Per programming veep Alberto Ciurana, 80% of Televisa’s acquisitions budget goes to U.S. product, given its output deals with Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount/DreamWorks and MGM.

In addition, rival TV Azteca, which has an output deal with Disney, fills 70% of its second channel, Canal 7, with mainly U.S. imports.

“We broadcast an average of 20 feature films a week,” says acquisitions VP Pedro Lascurain.

Its Mexico City UHF channel, Canal 40, is stocked with docus and other nonfiction product from the BBC and Discovery Channel, among others.

In Brazil, market leader Globo TV, which taps output or volume deals with Sony, Disney, Paramount/DreamWorks and Morgan Creek, devotes 90% of its programming to inhouse productions but is always on the lookout for hot new shows to supplement homegrown programming. “Lost” and “24 Hours” (aka “24”) have aired after 11 p.m., posting high ratings on Globo despite the late hour.

However, Globo programming/acquisitions chief Roberto Buzzoni says “none of the U.S. shows on Brazilian TV today have reached the level of success that some had in the ’90s, such as ‘Baywatch,’ ‘ER’ and ‘Moonlighting.'”

In fact, more broadcasters are looking for alternatives to U.S. programming as fees continue to rise.

“Their prices seem to go up by 20% each year,” Lascurain says.

In Argentina, where cable/satellite penetration is 70%, a film is old by the time it has gone through other platforms, leading Artear chief buyer Walter Sequeira to lament that “the ratings we get for them are not commensurate with the prices we pay.” Sequeira has noted a 20% dip in ratings for Hollywood pics.

Some broadcasters have turned to buying formats to game and reality shows. Globo has just renewed its joint-venture pact with Endemol (which is on the block and counts Televisa among its bidders).

“Gameshows have been making a huge comeback everywhere,” says Carole Bardasano, sales/marketing veep of FremantleMedia, whose “PokerFace” dominates its time slot on RCN Colombia and is debuting on TV Azteca in a few months.

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