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Hispanic TV Gets Real

8/18/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

The success of reality television shows such as Bailando por un Sueño (Dancing For a Dream) on Univision and of Azteca America’s La Academia (The Academy) franchise has strengthened interest in the genre in the Hispanic market.

“[Reality shows] are creating such a younger vibe for [Univision and Telemundo] that it makes sense for them to continue to pursue it by trying to find the right hit for them,” said Stephanie Fisch, senior vice president of production company Endemol USA Latino.

In May, the finale on Univision of the Televisa-produced reality show Bailando por un Sueño II drew 5.3 million total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data. An estimated 1.5 million viewers were 18 to 34, 621,000 were 2 to 11 and 356,000 were 12 to 17, which made for a decidedly young audience.

In comparison, Univision’s blockbuster summer novela La Fea Más Bella (The Prettiest Ugly Girl) garnered an average 4.8 million viewers during the first week of August. Univision executives declined to comment.

This fall, Telemundo will begin airing a Spanish-language version of Endemol’s Deal or No Deal, as well as an original program called Quinceañera.

Giorgio Aresu, former producer of La Academia, will be at the helm of Quinceañera, which will be filmed in Mexico. The show will air on Saturdays during early primetime and feature teenaged girls competing against one another in various talent categories. The winner will be awarded an elaborate party and other prizes to celebrate her 15th birthday party.

Aresu said in order to attract U.S.-born Latino viewers to the program, “some of the songs will be in English, [and] I have also told the show host to slip a phrase in English every now and then.”

The success of Bailando, on the other hand, indicated young Hispanic viewers are interested in the format even when it is in Spanish and features only Mexican participants. Bailando paired celebrities as dance partners with ordinary individuals looking to fulfill a dream, such as paying for a loved one’s medical treatment.

According to a study done last year by market research firm Yankelovich Inc., more than a third of all Hispanic children ages 6 to 11 had seen at least one reality show in the past week.

Telehit, the TuTV-owned music cable channel, targets a very young audience and just two months ago launched a music-based reality show called Melodimakers, which pairs disparate musicians and tasks them with composing and then performing a song in under an hour.

“A lot of the English-language networks are looking to capitalize on the Hispanic audience. They just don’t know how to do that,” said Fisch. “I see more of the [English-language] reality programs trying to give the [Hispanic] flavor [and] give them the sense that they can see themselves on the network.” Fisch is confident that reality shows will be a significant part of the Hispanic television market for a long time to come and cites cost effectiveness as a major factor.

“As long as they keep generating good ratings numbers the reality shows will continue,” said Paulina Magdaleno, entertainment editor of the Spanish-language daily Al Día. “The reality show genre still has a long way to go.”

September