Twentieth To Syndicate Telenovelas


Twentieth Television, seeking to become the first major American syndicator to directly target the rising Hispanic population in the U.S., has acquired a telenovela format from Latin America that it is rolling out for first-run syndication.

The Fox O&Os, which cover 45% of the U.S. and have been targeting Twentieth court shows more toward the Hispanic daytime audience, have licensed the new Twentieth franchise, which is being stripped under the Desire banner.

Marking the first time telenovelas have been formatted specifically for the American market, Desire will consist of multiple English-language telenovelas, according to Twentieth.

Twentieth TV President/COO Bob Cook noted that a minimum of three telenovelas per year (65 episodes each) will be formatted for U.S. distribution by Twentieth Television, including a translation of the series Table for Three from Colombia’s Caracol and the Cuban hit Fashion House from Miami’s XYSTUS.

The format will feature drama and romance, with a structured story arc running throughout the 65 hour-long episodes.

Serialized programming traditionally has not performed strongly in syndication with English-language viewers, but Twentieth and Fox appear to be betting that the expanding Hispanic population will embrace it.

Each Desire miniseries, which will be built around conflict and contain cliff-hangers, will be stripped Monday through Friday over a 13-week arc, after which a new drama will launch. 

“We feel the U.S. market for English-language telenovelas presents a unique opportunity to develop and produce quality content that attracts viewers and allows us to establish a foothold in this exciting and emerging genre,” Cook said in a statement.

Table for Three (originally Mesa Para Tres) chronicles the destruction of a family and the bonds of brotherhood, while Fashion House (Salir de Noche) delves deep into the fashion industry, focusing on “greed, lust and blind ambition.”

According to Twentieth, telenovelas are a “global programming phenomenon” that have attracted more than 2 billion viewers in more than 100 countries.

The format has generated strong ratings in multiple markets, with previously produced telenovelas having been dubbed and subtitled into more than 50 languages, dialects and accents.

In the U.S., Twentieth notes that telenovelas rank in the top-10 programs among Hispanic viewers—where there is a huge Spanish-English crossover audience, particularly among the younger generation—and make up  90% of the top-two Spanish-language networks’ prime time schedules.

Recently, Univision’s prime time telenovelas outperformed all other U.S. English-language networks in women 18-34 and 18-49, making it one of the fastest-growing genres in the world. Beyond Latin America, it encompasses Europe, Asia and the Middle East.