MEXICO CITY With the preem of “Ugly Betty” in China last week, Mexican telenovela giant Televisa is setting up four more production deals on the mainland.
According to Televisa’s China rep Arturo Cazares, the web’s formula for market penetration there is a combination of format sales coupled with a close business relationship in all aspects of the show production.
“These will be important sources of revenue for Televisa,” Cazares says. The scheme produces a number of income streams involving royalties, product placement and product integration, as well as additional business generated as consultants.
Of the four skeins, Cazares was most excited about “Dumb Girls Don’t Go to Heaven” (Las tontas no van al cielo). The 2008 telenovela is about a girl who runs away from her traditional family to live with a gay uncle and raise her son as a single mother.
The Chinese version will be produced by the Shanghai Media Group, one of the nation’s top regional broadcasters, which will offer national coverage for the show.
Meanwhile, Beijing-based media firm Minghe will pick up Televisa’s”The Stepmother” (La madrastra). Minghe’s general manager Ivan Yun spent years at Rupert Murdoch-owned Star TV making telenovelas. The shingle has strong ties with regional broadcaster Xingjiang, which also provides national coverage.
A third skein, “Esmeralda,” will be produced by Huace Film, located in Zhejiang, the capital of Hangzhou province. Long a media distributor, Huace moved into the soap biz about five years ago. While it’s unclear who it will go with as a broadcaster, Cazares feels certain its strength in distribution and sales will help the show reach national auds.
Beijing Ciwen Film & TV will handle “The Outsider” (La intrusa). Cazares considers shingle prexy Ma Zhong Jun one of the nation’s finest producers, and believes there will be strong competition between broadcasters to land the skein.
Following a successful round of talks last month, deals are expected to finalize shortly, with production to begin soon after.
Televisa has high hopes for “Ugly Betty,” called “Ugly Wudi” in the English-language media. Running on China’s massive satcaster Hunan, the program will reach hundreds of millions of viewers.