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Mip TV: Telemundo Internacional Puts Faith in Super-series

Latin American high-end TV drama co-prods prosper under prexy Marcos Santana

Action superseries “Dueños del paraiso,” the newest co-production between NBC U’s Telemundo Internacional and Chile’s TVN, deepens into Telemundo’s bet on higher-end shows, a growing trend among top Latin American TV players.

Set in the environment of ‘70s/’80s drugs and corruption in Miami, “Dueños del paraiso” (aka “Masters of Paradise”) toplines Mexican actress Kate del Castillo (“La Reina del Sur”) as a betrayed woman and ruthless narco queenpin who turns Miami into her territory.

Entirely shot on locations in Miami, Mexico and Chile, with actors from all over the region, as a period drama “Masters” had a bigger production budget commitment. Telemundo’s most ambitious fiction production to date launched Jan. 13 Stateside, scoring 2.3 million viewers as it became Telemundo’s highest opening ever. Often following the super-series formula, which Telemundo pioneered with “La Reina del Sur” in 2011, Latin America’s main TV producers are very often pumping up regional TV fiction.

What marks out super-series from traditional telenovelas is their shorter number of episodes -less than 60-, higher production quality standards, and that they are action-packed and faster paced, and have the potential to develop multiple seasons, says Telemundo Internacional prexy Marcos Santana.

The entry into super-series production responded to Telemundo’s aim to counter-program Univision, its U.S. main rival, “bringing to the audience a higher quality production, whereas the TV audience is now much more mature, due to broadband Internet penetration and the opportunity it has now to easily compare multiple contents,” Santana says.

Per Santana, “without any doubt, traditional telenovelas will continue in a family TV slot, but, as TV consumption evolves, that market will demand shorter, high-quality TV dramas. This is the big change that is coming.”

Super-series’ standout auds results and a growing production demand in recent years has driven Telemundo Internacional to build, beyond in-house Telemundo Studios productions, multiple co-production alliances with TV players such as Disney, Sony, Fox, Brazil’s Globo, Mexico’s Argos Comunicacion and Chile’s TVN, under Santana leadership.

Having gathered a solid catalogue of primetime TV dramas, which also includes recent hits such as “Acero, Woman of Steel” and “The Lord of the Skies,” Telemundo is launching at MipTV the super-series branding concept for a 10 pm slot.

One of Telemundo Internacional’s most recent moves in its always-deep connection with Chile’s TV market, “Masters of Paradise,” written by Chilean Pablo Illanes, marks a 50-50 venture with pubcaster TVN, with whom Telemundo has a case-by-case co-production relationship.

Meanwhile, an exclusive and long-term formats deal with TVN has allowed Telemundo to adapt more than dozen Chilean TV series to date. It also sells internationally TVN telenovelas catalog.

From January, network Chilevision, part of the Turner Group, pacted with Telemundo to broadcast in Chile Telemundo’s scripted dramas and unscripted show “Caso Cerrado.” According to Santana, Telemundo and Chilevision are in talks to co-produce TV dramas.

“We have always been very close to Chilean TV, pioneering the acquisition there of TV formats,” Santana says.

“Chile is a small country but with a high cultural and educational level, which has generated excellent screenwriters that lead great TV products, with scripts that deviate from the classic telenovela school,” he added.

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