Wider networks find footing

'Tiempo final' has successful debut

A promising debut for “Tiempo final” (Countdown), Fox Intl. Channel’s (FIC) first original drama skein for basic cable in Latin America, bodes well for the future of original programming on panregional webs.

“Tiempo final” won critical and ratings acclaim, and recouped half of its low-six-figure production budget through upfront ad sales.

Skein, which debuted Oct. 26 on Canal Fox, has already been sold to key free-to-air broadcasters in the region, including Colombian commercial web RCN.

The first episode of “Tiempo final” delivered especially high ratings in Venezuela (2.67), followed by Colombia, Chile, Argentina, and Mexico. Produced at Fox Telecolombia in Bogota, Colombia, the 26-episode drama, shot in high-definition, has a topnotch cast and award-winning helmers led by Felipe Martinez, Juan Felipe Orozco and Riccardo Gabrielli. A remake of the 2000 Argentine TV hit by Sebastian and Alejandro Borensztein, each 60-minute episode follows an extraordinary situation that unfolds in real-time.

“Tiempo final” is only the latest original skein from a basic cable panregional web.

Nickelodeon Latin America has reaped ratings gold with teen-targeted sitcom “Skimo” since last year. Skein has been syndicated on free-to-air webs in Mexico and Colombia’s Caracol TV, where it tops the ratings. It ranks third among all pay TV programs in its primetime slot and is among Nick’s top three shows among kids 4-11.

Sony Entertainment Television has scored with several original programs, led by latenight talkshow “Ya es mediodia en China,” (It’s Noon in China), which did well in the 18-to-49 femme demo in Mexico.

Its successful format adaptations include “Latin American Idol,” which is No. 1 in Colombia and among the top 20 skeins in the region; and Brazil’s “Next Top Model,” which ranks No. 1 in the slot for its target 18-34 demo.

Given the diversity of cultures and languages, the panregional webs have had to find ways to broaden their appeal.

“It’s definitely a challenge,” says Carolina Padula, head of programming for SET Latin America. “A key element to achieve this is an impeccable script. You can bring together all this diversity through a story or message that has a universal nature.”

Fox is dealing with the problem by centralizing its original production in Colombia.

“In Colombia, the Spanish is more neutral and writers (such as “Ugly Betty’s” Fernando Gaitan) write for an international audience more often than most,” FIC prexy Hernan Lopez says.

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