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Vintage telenova still draws audiences

Brazil's 'Pantanal' boosts SBT

RIO DE JANEIRO — The latest hit on Brazilian TV is not a new show. Thanks to the rerun of 1990 telenovela “Pantanal,” Brazil’s No. 3 net SBT has regained part of the ratings ground it lost to second-rated net TV Record in the past few years.

When SBT bowed the rerun June 6, most analysts doubted “Pantanal” would make any noise, because it aired in 1990 and then again in 1991-92 and 1998-99, all on TV Manchete, the telenovela’s producer, which went bankrupt in the late 1990s.

But “Pantanal’s” fantastic plot and long shots of wildlife in Brazil’s midwestern tourist attraction seem to still appeal to local viewers. With the reruns, SBT’s ratings in the 10 p.m.-11:30 p.m. slot (the so-called extended primetime in Brazil, where people tend to stay up late) rose from an average of 7 points to about 14 points.

On June 17, for instance, “Pantanal” had an average of 15 points in the 10 p.m.-10:40 p.m. slot, close to the 17 points of TV Record’s telenovela “Chamas da Vida” and Brazil’s traditional No. 1 net TV Globo’s series “Big Family” with 23 points.

SBT bought “Pantanal” rights in an auction from the creditors of TV Manchete. It airs two episodes a day Monday through Saturday; Wednesday it airs just one episode. The segs air in their original version, without any changes.

Most of “Pantanal’s” writers, cast and directors, including head writer Benedito Ruy Barbosa and general director Jayme Monjardim moved on to deep-pocketed TV Globo, which produced and aired a few telenovelas using the same formula.

Meanwhile since 2004, TV Record has invested about $300 million in telenovelas, including the construction of a production center in Rio, which has allowed the web to become Brazil’s No. 2 net.

While SBT is not threatening TV Globo’s lead with “Pantanal,” the net may overtake TV Record in ratings.

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