The good, the bad, and the digital

MADRID — In early September, screaming fans at a rock venue and cinema in downtown Madrid heralded the gala premieres of primetime skeins “Remember When,” airing on TVE1, and Telecinco’s “Sin tetas no hay paraiso” (Without Tits There Is No Paradise).

Yet in some ways, Spanish TV has never had it so bad. In 2007-08, national market leader Telecinco’s audience share dipped below 20% for the first time, ending the season at 19.7%. TVE1 fell to 16.8% and Antena 3 to 16.3%. New kids on the block fared better: Cuatro, buoyed by Euro 2008 soccer, rose 1.2% to 8.6% and La Sexta added 2% for 5.1%.

Another concern: escalating flat-screen TV sales with built-in digital decoders are cannibalizing Spain’s analog market. Their share as of June share stood at 15%.

Another first for Spain: national series contributed more than imports to network share (8.4% vs. 8.3%).

“Sin tetas no hay paraiso,” at 23.4%, was Telecinco’s stand-out bow, joining vets like comedy “Aida,” top of the pile for the year at 30.8%, and “Yo Soy Bea” (“I Am Betty,” an “Ugly Betty” take-off) at 28.8%.

TVE1 scored again on nostalgia drama with “Remember” (20.3%), while cop dramedy “Paco’s Men” (19.5%) flexed muscles for Antena 3 and its risque teen “Physics or Chemistry” (18.2%) ignited auds. “The Simpsons” (21.6%) and primetime “CSI” and “CSI Miami” (25.8%) are perennials for Antena 3 and Telecinco, respectively. Cuatro’s “House” (17.3%), notched numbers well above network average.

Geraldine Gonard, sales director at Imagina, sees “high production values” as one factor explaining homegrown success. At Mipcom, Gonard will be tubthumping TVE’s lavish historical adventurer “Aguila roja,” skedded for late fall. With the April 2010 analogical switch-off sure to add to the double-whammy of shrinking ad revs and fragmentation, Gonard argues “television should adapt to new technologies.” Over at TVE, which bows “Guante blanco” (White Glove) later this year, sales director Diego Ibanez agrees. He highlights the pubcaster’s “strength in content production” as key to exploiting new technologies and weathering the perfect storm.

What prevails most is uncertaintly. As per Telecinco acquisitions head Ghislain Barrois, “it’s clear how analog television will be switched off, but not how DTT will be switched on.”    

TOP 3

“Aida” (Telecinco)

“CSI: Miami” (Telecinco)

“Sin tetas no hay paraiso” (Telecinco)

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