But RioContentMarket wraps with slew of local deals

RIO DE JANEIRO — The TV biz is booming in Brazil, but indie shows still face obstacles breaking into the U.S. main-stream TV and theatrical markets, according to local industryites and government officials at the third RioContentMarket, Latin America’s main indie producers meeting, which closed Thursday with a flurry of local deals.

The distribution of Brazilian TV shows is usually limited to Latino nets or VOD platforms, while pics make it to the art-house circuit, VOD and homevideo.

“The U.S. market is formatted to be self-sufficient. The studios make their shows in-house or co-produce with U.S. indie companies,” said Daniela Vieira, content manager of the Brazilian versions of Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Toonscast and one of 3,000 participants from around the world at the event.

Vieira added Turner has acquired a number of Brazilian animated series and will co-produce a few others with local partners, designed for the local market. These series, she said, have international quality and global themes, and Turner intends to air them on its channels across Latin America, but not in the U.S.

One show that has broken through in the U.S. is Sao Paulo-based 44 Toons’ “Newbie and the Disasternauts,” which will be the first 100% Brazilian cartoon series to air on a main-stream net in the U.S.

Sci-fi space comedy follows the young commander of an interstellar ship and his crew.

Created and directed by 44 Toons’ Ale McHaddo, the English-language series consists of 39 episodes of seven minutes and will bow April 1 on Starz Kids & Family.

New York-based distrib Branscome Intl. and 44 Toons are looking for a co-production partner for the series’ second season.

But nothing indicates this is a trend. “It is very difficult for any indie production to make it to the U.S. market, especially if it is a foreign production,” said Branscome topper Catherine Branscome.

But while U.S. biz remains elusive, there was good news at the Rio confab where the local TV biz is booming, boosted by new regulations that impose primetime quotas for Brazilian programming on pay TV channels. This is opening up the local TV production sector.

An example of this is Viacom’s pact with Conspiracao to produce 75 hourlong episodes of Portuguese-language telenovela “Dani Who?” Designed for 7-14 year olds, comedy will bow March 2014 on the local version of Nickelodeon.

Brazil’s Grifa and Gaul’s FL Concepts will co-produce 20 episodes of “Bel Etoile,” hosted by local chef Bel Coelho, for French/German net Arte to air in 2014. The $20 million-budget skein will see Coelho travel Brazil looking for local dishes to prepare.

Meanwhile, the Spirit of Football, an international non-governmental organization that promotes social empowerment via soccer, pacted with DGT Filmes to produce content to screen in workshops with kids in Brazilian schools, among other venues.

The Spirit of Football promotes this initiative every four years in the country hosting FIFA’s Soccer World Cup, which will take place in Brazil in 2014. DGT’s business director Daniel Melloni said the deal amounts to $5 million.

The RioContentMarket was created and organized by the Brazilian Independent TV Producers Assn. (ABPI-TV).

It has grown exponentially in its three years, from an attendance of 800 for its first edition in 2011 to 3,000 this year.

Some 208 local production companies participated in the event, with large delegations from the U.K. (35), France (20) and Germany (10). Rio hosted 16 keynote speeches, 93 panels and 820 business meets.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more