SANTIAGO DE CHILE – Thanks to six hours a day of telenovelas, stripped Mondays to Fridays, Chilean broadcaster Mega TV has dominated the country’s television landscape over the past three years. But one particular telenovela has gripped this country of some 17 million inhabitants, driving Mega TV’s ratings to historical levels.
“Perdona Nuestros Pecados” (“Forgive Us Our Sins”) has generated average ratings of 27.4 in its 10 p.m. time slot, nearly triple that of competing programs on its next biggest rival, Canal 13. Credit also goes to a newish executive team, led by CEO Patricio Hernandez, who joined the company in 2013; head of content Patricia Bazan; production and operations chief Andrea Dell’Orto; and Juan Ignacio Vicente, head of content and international Business. Before the new team took over, Mega TV’s average rating was 4.3 in 2013, compared to its current average of 11.2, said Vicente.
In June 2016, Discovery Communications acquired a 27.5% stake in the channel, which now airs four hours a week of Discovery programs and is partnering with Discovery on the Chilean version of the global TV giant’s reality show “Say Yes to the Dress,” (“Vestido de Novia”).
“When we came in, Mega TV was trailing behind its competitors and barely producing its own content,” said Vicente who keeps Lao Tzu’s “The Art of War” prominently displayed on his coffee table. While in the process of building an in-house content division, Mega TV brought Turkish soaps to Chile, the first to do so. They grew into ratings juggernauts. Mega TV still airs three Turkish soaps a day, as well as telenovelas from Globo Brazil, with which they have recently inked a programming supply pact. “It was hard to find Turkish translators in the beginning but now we tap translation services in Spain, Chile and Turkey,” said Vicente, who plans to kick off international sales on “Perdona Nuestros Pecados” at Mipcom where it will lead Mega TV’s slate. Mega TV signed a co-production pact with Turkey’s Kanal D, the producers of hits “Fatmagul” and “A Thousand and One Nights,” at Mip TV this year.
Stripped Monday to Thursday, the 1950s-set “Perdona Nuestros Pecados” centers on a priest who seeks to avenge his sister’s suicide after she’s abandoned by the man who impregnates her. However, the priest falls in love with the culprit’s daughter, complicating matters even more. In a staunchly catholic country, the idea of a priest seeking vengeance and engaging in a forbidden romance makes for compelling viewing. Mega TV had to build a village and a church as it knew no church would allow the program to film within their hallowed walls.
The average budget for Mega TV’s adult-themed 10 p.m. telenovelas is $85,000 per episode but the “Perdona Nuestros Pecados” budget has exceeded the norm, being the broadcaster’s first period telenovela.
The soap is also driving visitors to Mega TV ‘s website, which receives an average of 30 million visitors a month, many seeking to catch up on past episodes. The expansion of its digital universe does not end there. “We plan to launch an app by the first semester of 2018,” said Vicente.