Telenovela draws 8.1 mil in debut week

NBCU’s Telemundo has scored a hit with its new telenovela, “La reina del sur” (Queen of the South), an adaptation of the bestseller by Spanish journo-novelist Arturo Perez-Reverte.

Stripped Monday through Friday at 10 p.m., “Queen” ranked No. 1 at 10 p.m. across all broadcast networks, beating Univision, CBS, ABC and NBC, on March 8. Telenovela, starring Kate del Castillo, lured 2.85 million total viewers and more than 1.9 million adults 18-49.

It drew more than 8.1 million viewers in its Feb. 28 debut week, making it the most successful telenovela premiere week in the web’s history.

Del Castillo plays the lead, Teresa Mendoza, who inadvertently becomes the reigning queen of drug smugglers while evading the killers of her drug-runner boyfriend.

Telemundo’s most ambitious telenovela to date was shot mainly in Colombia in HD with Telemundo Studios prexy Patricio Wills as executive producer. Wills has now been tapped for the newly created position of prexy of Prods. RTI (PRTI) in Colombia, 40% owned by Telemundo since 2009.

PRTI produced “Queen” and more than 3,000 hours of original content for Telemundo including telenovelas “Pasion de gavilanes,” “Dona Barbara,” “El clon” and “Sin senos no hay paraiso.”

“Patricio’s new focus will ensure that PRTI continues to produce world-class content for the Telemundo network while allowing PRTI to continue to grow as the demand for first-class original Spanish language content increases around the world,” said Don Browne, Telemundo Communications Group prexy.

Aurelio Valcarcel, upped to exec VP of Telemundo Studios Miami, will take over Wills’ responsibilities. Wills is expected to commute between Bogota, Colombia, and Miami.

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