Televisa’s northern exposure

Conglom to sell U.S.-style shows to Hollywood

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s telenovela “Dream Factory” is branching out.

As media conglom Televisa prepares its big-budget bet on U.S.-style series, it is nearing deals with its neighbors to the north for a second set of series.

Televisa VP of television Jose Baston says the web is negotiating the sale of three series in development to U.S.-owned studios with global pay network distribution. Baston named Sony and Warner as prospective buyers.

“We are working toward long-term negotiations,” Baston says. “It’s not just about buying these bon-bons we already have, but getting a commitment to buy in the medium-term, as well as co-producing.”

Televisa is also looking for co-production deals for the English-language market.

The company remains the top global producer of telenovelas, but is seeing growing competition from South America and Miami.

Beginning May 14, the web will bow its first four U.S.-style series of 13 episodes each on its free-to-air Channel 5. Move is part of an effort to draw back upscale, 18- to 34-year-olds who have migrated to pay TV or the Internet.

Series include comicbook-based action adventure “The Panther,” femme comedy “Sex and Other Secrets,” both one-hour formats; sitcom “Y ahora que hago” and horror series “Thirteen Fears,” which are half-hour shows.

“Thirteen” was shot on film, and the other three on HD with talent from Mexico’s film and commercials industries. Baston says the company was in a learning process on the new series — it’s had a secret consulting deal with unnamed U.S. producers.

“These series are made to the standards and quality of any global product, including that of the United States,” Baston says.

Baston says the new series received offers at Mip TV market in Cannes, but the company is waiting until after the shows bow in Mexico to finalize deals.

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