Sony Pictures Television, which found early success in licensing adaptations of such scripted shows as “Who’s the Boss” and “The Nanny,” is making great strides in the sale of light entertainment formats to Latin America.While in the region for decades, SPT bolstered its light entertainment catalogue after it acquired Dutch entertainment company 2waytraffic — international rights-holder to the wildly popular long-running game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” — some 2 1/2 years ago. “It was ‘Millionaire’ that really paved the way for us,” says 2waytraffic Latin America director of format sales Carolina Sabbag. Most recently, 2waytraffic has sold the format “The Dr. Oz Show,” a program that is neither a game nor a talent/variety franchise, both of which are generally in high demand. Brazil’s TV Record, Chile’s Mega TV and Ecuador’s Ecuavisa have been the first in the region to snag format rights to the health-oriented yakker. Colombia’s RCN is co-producing its version with SPT-owned Teleset. The Emmy Award-winning magazine talkshow includes audience participation and viewer interaction with the medical host and his team of specialist advisers. “One might think ‘Dr Oz’ was difficult to sell, but we delivered a package of solid information and tools which the broadcasters were able to localize and make relevant,” says Sabbag. Other 2waytraffic formats — “Minute to Win It,” “The Farm,” and “Dancing Nation” — are dominating their timeslots as well as filling programming gaps of broadcasters. “Minute to Win It” is in nine territories in the region. “(‘Minute’) has become the highest-rated weekend show in Peru and Uruguay, and ratings were so high in Argentina that the broadcaster began airing the series twice a week,” says Sabbag. SPT’s 2waytraffic, which has 15 light entertainment shows on the air 40 hours a week in the region, joins such players as FremantleMedia and Endemol in catering to a complex market. “It’s not an easy market,” says Sabbag. “You are faced with more technical, logistical and language barrier issues,” concurs Sheila Hall Aguirre, FremantleMedia’s senior sales veep in Latin America. She notes that there is a high demand for formats from terrestrials, while pan regionals generally prefer original versions. “In the past two years, there has been a major interest in talent/variety shows, especially in the Southern Cone,” says Hall Aguirre. FremantleMedia handles the “Got Talent,” “Idols” and “The X Factor” talent franchises. Funding resources are also not as readily available in some territories, but when the formula is right and easily adaptable to local tastes, these programs soar.
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