MADRID — Latino telenovelas are again catching the attention of Spain’s top private TV broadcasters, unleashing a new sprint for product deals with leading international suppliers.

Move comes after telenovelas had progressively disappeared from the schedules of Spain’s main TV webs to find shelter on Spain’s multi-channel DTT pltatforms.

A key driver for the sep-up in competition among broadcasters is the success of media conglom Atresmedia’s women-skewed free-to-air TV channel Nova.

On Feb. 3, Atresmedia’s main rival, Mediaset Espana, owned by Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset, reacted to Nova’s results unveiling a three-year strategic deal with Televisa – once a significant Atresmedia provider – to feed its TV service La Siete, which re-launches Friday as a telenovela-focused offer.

For its part, Atresmedia strengthened links with Telemundo, announcing Jan. 30 an exclusive, strategic multi-year commitment to guarantee Telemundo’s new telenovelas plus catalogue titles airtime in Spain via Nova.

Launched 2005 by DeAPlaneta’s Atresmedia, Nova has consolidated as the leading offer for Spain’s femme-orientated  DTT services. Net averaged a record 2.1% audience share in 2013, clearly surpassing rival Mediaset Espana’s Divinity (1.7%), La Siete (1.2%) and Nueve (0.7%).

Broadcast Jan. 24 in Nova’s prime-time, the last episode of Telemundo’s “The Return” scored a boffo 4.2% share and 793,000 viewers.Still airing, “Maid in Manhattan,” another Telemundo’s telenovela, has cumed an around-3% share on Nova.

“There’s a high demand for telenovelas from our viewers and they generate a very loyal audience,” said Jose Antonio Anton, Atresmedia’s programming, thematic channels director.

Re-designing La Siete, Mediaset aims to complement audience target reached by its channel bouquet, covering all women demos. It will target 18 to 35 year-olds with contempo, mould-breaking telenovelas; air thrillers and action novelas for 25-45s, plus classic productions for 45s-upwards.

“For some time now, we’ve entertained the idea of filling a gap in our TV offer,” said Manuel Villanueva, Mediaset Espana’s Contents general director.

The Televisa-Mediaset pact combines new bows such as “Love Rules,” “The Storm,” “Lie So You Can Live” with recent hits like “The Stepmother” and “Teresa.”

In a market whose TV ad spend has fallen 53% to €1.65 million ($2.3 billion) since its pre-crisis 2007 peak, every move has to be analyzed in economic terms. “Telenovelas represent a very effective product at a very reasonable price,” argued a Madrid-based TV expert.