BUENOS AIRES — Following its incursion into China, Mexican production house Televisa has signed a three-year partnership closer to home with Argentinean producers Cris Morena Group and RGB Entertainment.
Deal kicks off with musical sitcom “B&B” and teen telenovela “Casi angeles” (Teen Angels), which is enjoying ratings success in its soph season on Buenos Aires network Telefe, with a third season in the works.
Televisa will co-produce and distribute these and future scripted series internationally, and work with producers on developing ancillary revenue streams from albums, DVDs, magazines, legit productions, live shows and merchandising.
It’s the latest such deal for Televisa in Argentina, a market with the most independent producers in Latin America. Thanks to edgier stories and a business model that allows for wide rollouts of ancillary the international sales of scripted fare such as womanizer comedy “Lalola” is expanding.
Televisa has similar deals with Ideas del Sur and Pol-ka for product including teen novela “Patito feo” (Ugly Duckling) and crime series “Mujeres asesinas” (Women Killers).
Televisa “has a great production team and we know what we can do well and cannot do very well,” says Jose Baston, Televisa’s corporate veep of television. “We realized we don’t know how to do the types of shows (that Cris Morena and RGB do). … And this is what we are looking for.”
Televisa previously worked with Cris Morena and RGB on Mexican adaptations of Cinderella-like telenovela “Floricienta” (Flinderella), private school-set “Rebelde way” (The Rebels) and sitcom “Amor mio” (Looney Love), in some cases flying actors down to Buenos Aires for filming.
However, the model led to conflicts in distribution and format sales, with more than one version competing in international markets, as in the case of “Rebels.”
Under the new model, Televisa will invest directly in production, handle international sales and work with Cris Morena and RGB on remakes in other territories.
With “Teen Angels,” for example, the idea is to do live shows of the Argentinean band the show is named for throughout Latin America in 2009 and then do a remake in Mexico — also with a spinoff pop group — when “we believe it is opportune,” says RGB partner Victor Gonzalez.
“We are going to give each of the versions the time it needs,” Baston says.
With production costs rising as viewers demand such higher quality as high definition, it is essential for programs “to travel universally,” Gonzalez says.
The Argentinean market is the latest expansion for Televisa, which recently opened offices in Beijing and Shanghai. Next year the company is planning to expand distribution and production to India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia and South Korea.
“We believe that content is the key to the entertainment business and we know that the platforms for distribution are growing,” Baston says. “There may be new methods of distribution on cell phones and the Internet, but there always will be a need for content.”
Televisa and Cris Morena-RGB also have teamed on the production of “Atrapados,” a suspense thriller designed for cell phones and the Internet, and “Jake & Blake,” the first English-language fiction series out of Argentina. The Disney Channel is interested, Gonzalez says.
“Jake & Blake” is toplined by Benjamin Rojas of “Rebels” playing identical twins raised separately who meet and swap identities.
By doing the show in English, the idea is to expand to new markets and compete with American series, Gonzalez says, adding that it is easier to dub from English to other languages than from Spanish.