‘La Reina del Sur’ Season 2 Drives Ratings Gains for Telemundo

The trials of Teresa Mendoza have been very good for Telemundo.

The sophomore season of the network’s hit series “La Reina del Sur” (Queen of the South) went out on a high note Monday, grabbing 2.2 million viewers and 1.1 million in the adults 18-49 demographic. That was strong enough to make Telemundo the No. 1 network over all broadcast rivals in “La Reina’s” 10 p.m. time slot.

The crime thriller telenovela starring Kate del Castillo has given a competitive boost to NBCUniversal’s Spanish-language network, solidifying its lead over rival Univision in primetime in adults 18-49 and adults 18-34. Throughout its 60-episode run, which began April 22, “La Reina” kept Telemundo broadcast network among the top 3 networks regardless of language in the adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 demos in the 10 p.m. Monday-Friday berth.

“We have had exceptional results from ‘La Reina’ especially in this period where the television industry is facing many challenges,” said Marcos Santana, president of Telemundo Global Studios and an executive producer of “La Reina.”

“La Reina,” revolving around a woman who inadvertently becomes a drug cartel boss, set social media engagement records for the network as well, per Telemundo. The network aims to capitalize on its momentum with the launch tonight of political thriller “Preso No. 1” (Prisoner No. 1), which was heavily promoted during the “La Reina” run.

The original “La Reina” in 2011 was a milestone series for Telemundo because it marked a new iteration of the telenovela genre that is the staple of Spanish-language TV.

Airing Monday through Friday, “La Reina” featured about half the number of episodes of a typical novela. It was also designed as a storyline to run for multiple seasons, which was a departure for Spanish-language TV. The first season of the show was one of the rocket-boosters that helped Telemundo slowly but surely close the ratings gap against Univision.

The storylines of “La Reina” were also edgier than many novelas in telling the story Teresa Mendoza story.  Telemundo has billed “La Reina” Season 2 as the “most ambitious” series produced for U.S. Spanish-language TV, with location shoots that stretched from Bogota to Bucharest. The sophomore edition was a co-production between Telemundo and Netflix. The streaming giant has worldwide rights to season 1 at present and is expected to bow season 2 outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico later this year.

For Telemundo, season two has averaged about 2 million viewers per episode in Nielsen’s L+3 ratings, which is high by the network’s standards. In adults 18-49, the series has averaged 1.05 million viewers; in 18-34 the average is hovering around 419,000. The vast majority of viewership is live, as evidenced by the modest lift between its L3 and L7 averages (2.1 million in total viewers, 1.08 in adults 18-49 and 430,000 in adults 18-34, as of July 9).

Season two of the series was highly anticipated by fans after an eight-year wait. Producers took great care given the importance of the franchise for NBCUniversal. “Queen of the South,” the English-language adaptation for USA Network, is heading into its fourth season later this year.

There’s no guarantee Telemundo will deliver a third season of “La Reina,” Santana said. The first installment was based on a best-selling novel. Season two took so long to come to fruition in part because writers were working on an original storyline — in addition to del Castillo’s well-documented real-life adventures. Telemundo is actively developing other projects with del Castillo, Santana said.

“If we find another solid story like (season 2) of course we will produce a third season,” Santana said. “But only if we find a plot that breaks the ceiling again in terms of content.”

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