Comedy, soccer reign in Spain

TV revolution does little to improve ratings

MADRID — Spain suffered the throes of a TV revolution in 2005 that included the bow of its first major broadcaster in 15 years (Cuatro), 18 new digital terrestrial television channels, the consolidation of broadband pay TV player Imagenio and the merger of its two top cablers, ONO and Auna.

All of this had little effect on the TV ratings for the year.

November’s bow of Cuatro and the DTT channels was too late — and too soft — to make much difference to the numbers in a landscape still dominated by terrestrial broadcasters.

Antena 3’s neighbors comedy “Aqui no hay quien viva” dominated the list of the top 30 shows of 2005, compiled by audience analysts Corporacion Multimedia, claiming 14 slots.

Its Feb. 16 episode took a 41.5% share and 7.9 million viewers, making it No. 3 on the list.

Soccer claimed seven of the top 10 slots, including the first two. The most watched game was October’s San Marino vs. Spain qualifier for the 2006 World Cup on Antena 3, which notched a 50% share and 8.5 million viewers.

Other top-rating skeins were the seventh season of TVE-1’s 1970s-set family tale, “Cuentame como paso,” and “Aida,” a spinoff from 6-year-old “Seven Lives.”

“Aida” hit 23rd with the Jan. 16 episode (36% and 6.9 million) while “Cuentame” slid into 30th position with an episode broadcast on Feb. 3 that cumed a 36.3% share and 6.7 million viewers.

Change, such as it was, came in broadcast share, though not always for the reasons predicted.

For the second year running, Mediaset-owned Telecinco topped ratings, commanding a 22.3% audience share.

Rival commercial broadcaster Antena 3, controlled by DeAPlaneta, overhauled pubcaster RTVE’s general entertainment channel TVE-1, edging up 0.5% to 21.3% vs. TVE-1’s 19.6%, an all-time low.

Launched Nov. 7, new analog free-to-air net Cuatro averaged 5%. Most analysts expected Cuatro to steal viewers from TVE, as the pubcaster primed PBS-style programming.

But TVE’s share-seepage benefited Antena 3.

“Both have family targets, and Antena 3 is replacing TVE in this domain,” says Glen Spencer Chapman at Ibersecurities.

Pay TV share crept up 1.5% to 7.5%, driven by Sogecable satcaster Digital Plus (3.7%) and cable/broadband TV ops (3.1%).

But Cuatro, especially if it betters share, may halt, temporarily at least, multichannel erosion in 2006.