Noticeable cracks in local armor

Spain

MADRID — Broadcast by Telecinco, “CSI: Miami” led Spain’s TV drama ratings during the 2006-07 season, beating out local series that until recently have topped primetime.

Local fiction is key for Spanish broadcasters. “Audiences like it, and it underscores a channel’s hallmarks,” says Antena 3 fiction director Sonia Martinez.

Nevertheless, “CSI: Miami” outpaced the rest by averaging 5.1 million viewers and a 27.7% share. In addition, Las Vegas-set “CSI” drew 3.9 million/29.3%, and “CSI: New York” took in 3.2 million/30%.

Cuatro’s “House” (3 million/19%), Antena 3’s “The Simpsons” (2.4 million/23.6%) and “Without a Trace” (2.4 million/16%) were also standouts from Stateside.

The impact of U.S. dramas has grown since two analog free-to-air nationwide channels, Sogecable’s Cuatro and Imagina-Televisa’s La Sexta, launched in the 2005-06 season.

Spanish dramas still dominate primetime overall, taking eight of the top 10 spots among Spanish series in terms of average viewers, led by Telecinco sitcom “Aida,” “ER”-style drama “Central Hospital” and TVE1 retro comedy “Remember When.”

But Spanish fiction is showing some wear and tear. The newest of the aforementioned hits, “Aida,” dates from January 2005. Last season, 80% of new local fiction bets underperformed, with the noteworthy exceptions being Antena 3 high-school chiller “Boarding School” and Cuatro’s flashback cop drama “Countdown.”

At Mipcom, buyers will principally cherry-pick U.S. dramas. Most Spanish TV nets have tied down their U.S. dramas for 2007-08, reupping established deals.

“At Mipcom, we’ll search for quality dramas, visually attractive documentaries and TV movies,” La Sexta acquisitions head Sergio Ramos says.

Adds Telecinco head of acquisitions Ghislain Barrois: “We’ll buy TV movies, series and miniseries, also for our DTT (digital terrestrial) channels.”

DTT is opening a window for new product. On Sept. 3, Antena 3 used DTT channel Antena.neox to pre-release the Endemol-produced thriller skein “Quart” one day before its analog channel broadcast.

TOP 3

1. CSI: Miami (Telecinco)

2. Aida (Telecinco)

3. Central Hospital (Telecinco)

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