With the return of “Reina del Sur” and “Pasión de Gavilanes,” the Tokyo Olympics and next year’s FIFA World Cup, and two new reality series, Telemundo is revving up both its linear and streaming programming with more than 1,000 hours of original content.
NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises unveiled its 2021-22 lineup of unscripted and scripted content Wednesday, which brings not only the rating powerhouse “Reina del Sur” for its third season, but also the network’s first-ever period drama “Malverde: El Santo Patrón,” a World War II-era tale starring Latin Grammy–winner Pedro Fernández. On the sports side, Telemundo Deportes will air more than 300 hours of coverage of the 2021 Olympics from Tokyo this summer and the most extensive coverage ever of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Family-friendly sports reality competition show “Exatlón Estados Unidos,” another rating behemoth for the network, will also continue its successful run with a sixth season.
“As the leading producer of Spanish-language scripted content, we are uniquely positioned to deliver for our audience on every screen,” said Beau Ferrari, chairman of NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises. “This coming season we’re doubling down on our commitment and investments to super-serve Latinos with the best entertainment content, world-class sports events and most trusted news they want and need, delivered on the devices they prefer.”
Per the Spanish-language network, Comcast and NBCUniversal, bolstered by Telemundo, reaches 9 out of 10 U.S. Hispanics every month. On the broadcast side, among adults ages 18-49, Telemundo’s weekday primetime is up double digits, outperforming its closest competitor by nearly 40% more nights compared to the same time period last year. In addition, Telemundo continues to be the top broadcast network on YouTube for the fourth consecutive year.
“From primetime to Peacock, only NBCUniversal and Telemundo can help marketers meaningfully engage with the Hispanic consumers leading the cultural and technological revolutions of tomorrow,” added Laura Molen, president of advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal.
This year’s programming announcements were made a week after Telemundo launched its first streaming content studio with over 35 original scripted projects in the mix. In addition to beefing up its intellectual property to meet the growing demands of Latino viewers, the new Miami-based studio will offer production services to direct-to-consumer platforms in search of high-quality production expertise and capabilities. The establishment of the studio comes after the company launched over 3,000 hours of streaming content on Peacock this past July. Some Telemundo Streaming Studios projects underway include the dramedy “Armas de Mujer” for Peacock and “El Marginal’s” fourth and fifth seasons for Netflix, as well as the remake of “Historia de un Clan.” Telemundo Streaming Studios will be housed under Telemundo Global Studios, led by its president Marcos Santana.
Santana spoke with Variety ahead of this year’s upfront presentation about how the company hopes to retain and augment both its live linear TV and streaming audiences, what upcoming productions he’s looking forward to and how the company is staying competitive.
How is Telemundo ensuring that both its live and streaming audiences are being catered to with the same caliber of content?
Well, it’s no easy task, and honestly, it can be daunting! But, audiences will seek out unique content wherever it is being offered. If you put out something like “Malverde,” “Reina del Sur” or “Diario de un Gigoló” and you can’t watch it anywhere else but Telemundo, then you’re going to go to Telemundo. People will go to whatever platform they have to go to in order to view their shows. For that reason, I believe that content is ultimately the key, and that is why we believe that we will be able to maintain our linear and our streaming audiences as long as we have the capacity to continue coming out with original projects with stories that no one else is telling. It’s a powerful tool at our disposal — producing for Latinos by Latinos. That is to say, we’re producing and developing telenovelas inside of the United States, and it is where the U.S. Latino can view their community on screen, whether that be in Chicago, in Los Angeles or in Texas. We can see how people in our community talk on screen, the problems that we face, and I think that is a weapon that only Telemundo can fire. Our competition doesn’t have that.
Why is the establishment of Telemundo Streaming Studios unique in the Spanish-language content market?
We’re the only studio in the market that will have the capacity to not only produce for its own platform— in this case Peacock — but we will also have the capacity to produce for outside platforms and form agreements with the likes of Netflix and Movistar. We are already in conversation and are working to produce exclusive content for those streamers and invest in co-productions with them.
Can you tell me a little bit more about Telemundo’s upcoming programming slate— what are you most excited about?
We’ll be announcing a bunch of important studio properties, including “Malverde,” which is a period series about the story of a Robin Hood-type, mythological sort of figure that all Mexicans and Central Americans love. It is is an action series set in the late 1800s, early 1900s, all in Mexico and we constructed an enormous backlot for it. Next week we start production of “La Reina del Sur,” with the third season told in eight countries— showcasing magnificent natural landscapes and locations like the glaciers in Argentina, Machu Picchu in Peru, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, the Desert of Arica in Chile, while Teresa Mendoza is in pursuit of the American government. There’s going to be a ton of action and a ton of romance. We’re also currently filming “Parientes a la Fuerza,” a light romantic comedy between Los Angeles and Mexico, based on a Hollywood writer that goes to Mexico, depressed, and finds love. Her family is very humble and poor and they move into his mansion, and the trouble starts there. Also coming up is the second season of “Pasión de Gavilanes,” a telenovela we did over 20 years ago. It’s returning again with Julio Jiménez attached as the writer, the original scribe of the first season. This new saga will focus on the children of the old stars (their parents).
What can you divulge about the company’s future collaboration plans with Peacock?
“Armas de Mujer” is the first series created 100% for the platform and produced internally, but we’ve already debuted “Dime Quién Soy,” which is a co-production that we did with DLO Producciones for Movistar, which eventually aired on Peacock. It is a period drama that takes place from 1939 to 1945, during the Second World War. Our budget is even bigger for the second season. The idea is to continue collaborating both internally and with our external partners and to continue producing Spanish-language series of different genres for various streaming platforms, including for Peacock.
How is Telemundo keeping up with rivals at a time of increasing competition for Spanish-language content?
We’re the only studio producing in Spanish in the United States for the Hispanic market, and there’s no company like ours with a facility in Miami with over three studios with high-tech production capacity. We just wrapped “Armas de Mujer” for Peacock, an original eight-parter with a super international Latino cast, including Kate del Castillo, Roselyn Sánchez, Sylvia Sáenz and Jeimy Osorio. We believe our strategy is more consistent than our competition. There are 60 million Hispanics in the United States, who come home and who want to keep their roots in some way, and they want to discover things that they identify with. We’re producing entire Hispanic series in the United States — Netflix doesn’t do that, Amazon doesn’t do that, only we do that. We have over a decade of experience producing in the United States, including in cities like Los Angeles, Houston, New York, Philadelphia and, of course, Miami. We’re able to produce high-caliber content in an increasingly tough market within the United States content ecosystem. That makes us totally different from the rest of the competition.
Here’s a rundown of upcoming Telemundo programs:
“Diario de un Gigoló” (“Diary of a Gigolo”): A provocative series that centers on the life of Emanuel, a male escort living a hedonistic life of freedom and luxury. After surviving a childhood of violence and poverty, Emanuel forges a bond with a local boss that takes him under his wing and helps him become a much sought-after escort. Destiny arrives in the form of Julia, a woman who he falls madly in love with. Blinded by his passion, Emanuel fails to see the dangers impacting their uncertain future together and his complicated life as a gigolo. “Diario de un Gigoló” is produced by Telemundo Global Studios.
“Parientes a la Fuerza” (“Family by Force”): A family-friendly dramedy that tells the story of George Cruz, a successful writer who feels his life is over after his wife, Leticia, leaves him. When George flies to Mexico, he meets Carmen Jurado, a young woman of modest means whom he falls in love with quickly. The couple soon makes plans for a future together, but once Carmen moves with him to Beverly Hills with her entire family, they begin to clash, turning the mansion into a war zone.
“La Casa de los Famosos” (“The Celebrity House,” working title): A reality series that features a group of celebrities living together under constant video surveillance, totally isolated from the outside world. Contestants will compete for weekly awards and one grand prize of $200,000 while audiences will get to know a different side of their favorite celebrities with an unobstructed view.
“Así Se Baila” (“Let’s Dance,” working title): Telemundo’s bold remix on the popular dance competition genre, takes ten celebrity contestants to the stage, pairing them with a loved one in a unique test of dance skills and family relationships captured under bright lights. Each week, teams comprised of couples, siblings, best friends, and mother-and-son duos take part in dancing challenges to remain in the competition for another round, judged by an expert panel.
“Pasión de Gavilanes II” (“Hidden Passion II”): The Reyes brothers from one of Telemundo’s most famous original productions are back! In the first season, they seek to avenge their sister’s death to infiltrate the Elizondo family’s farm by passing themselves off as workers, but their plans are thwarted when they find themselves falling in love with the Elizondo sisters. Now, two decades later, the Reyes and Elizondos have united as one family, but their bonds are tested by new challenges, fated to begin with another tragic crime that rocks the family to the core.
“Hercai, Amor y Venganza” (“Hercai, Love and Vengeance”): This internationally acclaimed Turkish drama is set in the ancient town of Midyat in the historic Mardin Province of Turkey, following the story of Reyyan and Miran, whose impossible love is driven by revenge and betrayal. The plot unfolds as Miran carries out his nefarious plan to honor his parents’ death, an act inspired by his wrathful grandmother. Meanwhile, Reyyan’s desire of escaping the pressure of her grandfather unwittingly pushes her into Miran’s arms. This star-crossed couple discovers their shared passion is stronger than rivalry and hate, stopping at nothing to fulfill their romantic destiny together.
Summer Olympics in Tokyo: Telemundo and Universo will offer at least 12 hours of intense live sports coverage throughout the night and early morning schedules, and Telemundo will present a two-hour recap show highlighting the best stories of the day every day, Monday through Friday, beginning July 26. The multi-faceted and multiplatform coverage will kick off July 21 with the women’s soccer competition live on Universo.
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: Telemundo Deportes will offer its passionate soccer fans the CONCACAF FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, including the Mexico and USA national teams’ away matches. Having all stadiums located in the city of Doha will allow for unprecedented studio position opportunities and more matches called from the stadiums, in addition to increased live social coverage, engagement opportunities with fans in real-time, and interactive solutions to create a totally immersive experience.
(Pictured: Marcos Santana)