Formats Key to New Markets for Televisa

Telenovelas big game in Africa

Televisa’s reality, game and talent show formats are opening up new territories for the giant Mexican broadcaster although its traditional telenovelas are also captivating new viewers, especially in Africa.

Thanks to these formats, the world’s largest producer of Spanish-language content (90,000 hours per year) has tapped new European markets, including France, the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, according to Claudia Sahab, Televisa’s Madrid-based director of Europe, who is attending MipTV along with Televisa international VP Fernando Perez-Gavilan, entertainment formats director general Ricardo Ehrsam and Mario Castro, sales director for Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Big sellers since last year are kiddie talent show “Pequenos Gigantes” (“Little Giants”) and reality program “Dolphins With the Stars,” which features celebrities interacting with dolphins.

“While our natural market is Spain, our telenovelas have also sold in Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and other East European countries,” said Sahab.

Africa has exhibited the most dramatic surge in demand for telenovelas, while Asia has grown its demand for formats, and at least five territories are clients, according to Miami-based Castro.

“Africa and Latin America have similar social classes whereby their upper classes remain small while middle and lower classes predominate,” said Castro, who points out the widely popular appeal of “telenovela rosas,” which “tell stories of love with aspirational themes, and have endings where everything is resolved and everyone is happy.”

The demand in Africa also comes from the growing number of new channels seeking good product as more digital broadcasting signals are awarded, said Castro. Televisa sells its annual output of 11 to 12 telenovelas in English, French and Portuguese to 37 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and 24 Middle Eastern and North African territories at present.

Televisa’s new formats include cooking reality TV show “The Single Chef,” game shows “The Assembly Game,” and “The Generation Gap,” and talent program “Stand Up for Your Country,” which gives popular parent/child duos on the Internet the chance to become TV stars. “Stand Up…” already airs on Spain’s Telecinco, where it leads in primetime.

Televisa is not averse to rebooting its classic telenovelas. “Que te Pardone Dios….Yo No” (Ask God for Forgiveness…Not Me), a remake of 2000 hit “Abrazame Muy Fuerte” (Hold Me Tight), and “La sombra del pasado” (Shadows of the Past, a reversion of 2001 hit “Manantial”) lead its MipTV lineup.

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