'Caminho' nabs 30 million viewers
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s TV Globo has gone to exotic lengths to defend its long-held numero uno status. Starting Jan. 19, Gloria Perez’s telenovela “Caminho das Indias” (Path to India), a colorful India complete with mystic figures, magnificent palaces and temples and chaotic traffic, will parade before the eyes of its 30 million viewers. With 180 to 200 episodes airing Monday through Saturday until September, the telenovela is the net’s first production set in India, where a 40-person cast and crew spent 20 days lensing last year. The skein costs 250,000 reals ($108,000) per episode, which includes the construction of two Indian towns in the net’s Rio production center.
“India” is one of the highlights of TV Globo’s 2009 programming and is aimed at keeping the net as market leader.
TV Globo has led the country’s free-to-air TV ratings since the early 1970s. But its audience fell 5% in 2008 to an average of 15.3 points, according to researching firm Ibope, while its only significant competitor, TV Record, increased 18% to 5.7 points.
“TV Globo often makes large investments” in production, says the net’s communications director Luis Erlanger. “We have always had competition, and we beat them, thanks to our programming quality.”
The faceoff started Jan. 5 when both nets launched ambitious miniseries. TV Globo bowed Manoel Carlos’ nine-episode “Maysa,” the biography of a well-known Brazilian singer, which cost $650,000 per episode. To lense the mini, the net hired Brazilian d.p. Affonso Beato (“The Queen” and “All About My Mother”).
TV Record fired back with Marcilio Moraes’ “A Lei e o crime” (Law and Crime), a 16-episode skein about Rio’s underworld, said to be inspired by Jose Padilha’s feature hit “Elite Squad.” The mini stars some of the pic’s cast.
The pair are also battling it out in reality shows. On Jan. 13 TV Globo preemed the ninth season of its version of Endemol’s format “Big Brother,” which airs until the end of March.
Traditionally the country’s second most-watched show, “Big Brother” changed things up by including two participants over age 60 among the usual well-built young men and women.
On the same day, TV Record opened the third season of “Troca de Familia,” its version of Fox’s format “Trading Spouses.” The novelty of this season, which ends early April, is that husbands, not the wives, will trade homes.
For the rest of the year, TV Globo will rely on its successful programming formula: four telenovelas aired Monday through Saturday, exclusive soccer matches from Brazil’s top leagues, newscasts, series and miniseries. The net produces the bulk of its programming, but also airs U.S. features from its volume deals with Sony, Fox, Disney and DreamWorks.
In the second half of this year TV Record will add a third telenovela slot, as part of a deal with Mexican giant Televisa, including a local version of “Ugly Betty.”
Reality shows are the other highlight for this year. TV Record will air seven unscripted shows in 2009, including its versions for “The Apprentice” (sixth season), “American Idol” (second season) and “The Farm” (first season).
TV Record trails TV Globo when it comes to sports programming. This situation is gradually changing, as TV Record has exclusive rights in Brazil to the Guadalajara Pan-American Games 2011 and the London Summer Olympics 2012.
“Our goal is to grow this year more than in the previous year,” says TV Record’s communications director Ricardo Frota. “TV Record has already consolidated its second position on the audience ranking. We are preparing ourselves to lead the market, which will eventually happen.”