‘Sesame’ pacts with Discovery, Televisa

TeleFutura to b'cast kiddie skein in U.S.

MIAMI — Sesame Workshop has teamed with panregional feevee Discovery Kids and Mexican media conglom Televisa to produce three new seasons of “Plaza Sesamo,” Spanish-lingo version of “Sesame Street.”

U.S. Spanish-language net TeleFutura, owned by Univision Communications, is the Stateside broadcaster.

HIP TV, a division of Los Angeles-based HIP Entertainment Group, will be production supervisor for 65 episodes over three seasons.

The seasons will be rolled out every 18 months, with the first skedded to bow during the first half of 2005 in Latin America on the Discovery Kids channel and on one of Televisa’s four broadcast channels in Mexico.

“Plaza Sesamo” follows the same format as its English-lingo counterpart. It features long-standing characters like Cookie Monster, Bert, Ernie and Elmo plus locals like Abelardo, Lola and Pancho. Live-action segments will be commissioned from local production companies throughout Latin America to incorporate into the series.

Also in the works are 10 45-minute “Plaza Sesamo” homevideo titles including a holiday special.

“The partnership ensures a long-term presence of ‘Plaza Sesamo’ in Latin America,” said Jennifer Monier-Williams, Sesame Workshop’s VP of global television distribution. “Our goal was to develop an integrated business plan with the support of key broadcast and production partners to extend the brand’s messages.”

Televisa has long aired “Plaza Sesamo,” celebrating the show’s 30th anniversary last year, and the Mexico deal with Televisa was one of Sesame Workshop’s first international co-productions. But since 1973, Televisa has produced just eight seasons of “Plaza Sesamo,” the most recent of which bowed in April of last year.

Discovery Kids Latin America will have the cable- and satellite-exclusive rights for all of its Spanish-speaking markets including the Caribbean, and will retain the rights to sell the program to broadcast nets in other countries in the region outside Mexico and the U.S., according to a Sesame Workshop spokeswoman.

Broadcaster-feevee partnerships are not unusual in Latin America, given the low rates of penetration of pay TV in the region.

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