Decades of inhouse production, coupled with a growing influx of international co-producers, have given Latin American television content an edge in the global TV marketplace. Ten of the 40 International Emmy nominations in major categories hail from the region.
In recent years, HBO, the History Channel, Discovery, Fox Intl. Channels, Sony and NBC U’s Telemundo have ramped up original programming at their Latin American outposts. Sony and Telemundo have upped the ante by buying major shares in Colombian TV production houses Teleset and RTI, respectively. Fox bought local shingles Fox Toma 1 in Argentina and Bogota-based Telecolombia.
“We’ve planted a seed and watched it grow,” says Luis Peraza, HBO’s exec veep of programming, acquisitions and original productions. Its women’s prison drama “Capadocia,” made in Mexico with local veteran producer Argos, captured three major noms.
HBO Latin America has shepherded other local programs such as “Filhos de Carnaval” and “Mandrake” in Brazil and “Epitafios” in Argentina. Higher production budgets and a more rigorous development process have yielded notable results.
“Shot in 16 mm, ‘Capadocia’ took nearly three years of development, compared to an average of one year … with our other dramas,” notes Argos Television head Ana Celia Urquidi. “It was more like making a film,” she says of Argos’ first Emmy-nommed program.
Each episode took about a week to shoot at triple the budget of a telenovela production, which normally shoots an episode a day.
Brazilian media powerhouse Globo TV has netted six noms in a variety of categories including its entry in the news category, “Casa Eloa.” All its nominees are inhouse productions with the exception of comedy “The Slum,” co-produced with Dueto Filmes.
Globo has been submitting its programs for consideration since 2004 and has netted 26 Emmy noms, although it hasn’t snagged an award yet.
“Globo produces more than 90% of its content, which makes it a major employer of artists, authors, journalists, producers and technicians,” says Globo spokesman Luis Erlager, who adds that Globo is in the Guinness Book of World Records for producing 2,500 hours of telenovelas and 1,800 hours of news content every year.
The company spends about $200,000 per episode on its telenovelas and about half that on its other programs. Its Emmy-nommed telenovela “India — A Love Story” is its most expensive and its first telenovela shot in India as well as Brazil. “India” has sold to Romania’s ACasa and Russia’s CTC ahead of its official sales launch at NATPE.