Spanish casters turn to local toons to diversify teen skeds

Netting a 28.8 share with its year-old prime-time teen series Compañeros, Antena 3 is currently negotiating licensing deals to share this high-performance soap with channels in other territories, including Portugal, Italy and some Latin American countries. Co-produced with Madrid-based prodco Globomedia,...
December 1, 1999

Netting a 28.8 share with its year-old prime-time teen series Compañeros, Antena 3 is currently negotiating licensing deals to share this high-performance soap with channels in other territories, including Portugal, Italy and some Latin American countries. Co-produced with Madrid-based prodco Globomedia, the 90-minute series airs on Antena 3 Wednesday nights at 10 p.m., pulling in an average of 4.7 million viewers. The high school-based soap explores a different social issue (i.e. drugs, sex, relationships) each episode, with production costs at US$260,000 per show.

Based on the proven track record of teen series like Compañeros, state-owned broadcasting group RTVE is planning to launch a two-hour teen-specific block (from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.) on its La 2 channel sometime next year. A new teen talk show being produced in-house at RTVE could figure into the weekly block, as well as Cuttlas, a 13 x 26-minute toon co-produced with Cartoon Producciones and distributed by PPM Multimedia. Slated for a 2000 delivery, Cuttlas is the story of a space cowboy who wrestles the criminal element into submission with his girlfriend Mabel.

Teen-targeted animation of all kinds is coming into its own on the Spanish production front. Madrid-based toonco B.R.B Internacional just delivered 26 half-hour episodes of Supermodels to Antena 3. This US$6-million, Charlie’s Angels-esque series tells the story of four beautiful models who are dedicated to fighting crime undercover. B.R.B has also partnered with Scottish TV Enterprises to produce a quiz show called GET WET for broadcast first on RTVE in April or June 2000, and on ITV later that year.

PPM Multimedia has finished production on Kid’s Game, a 70-minute clay-animated feature film co-pro with regional channel Canal 9. Originally intended for kids, the finished flick contains a level of violence that’s more appropriate for younger teens. The movie stars a girl named Sara who’s orphaned when Earth is invaded by extra-terrestrials. Sara uses her psychic powers to free fellow human survivors from alien slavery.

Aragon Animation is targeting teens with Defender 5, The Last Squad, a 26 x 25-minute, futuristic animated series about five heroes bent on saving Earth from domination by an evil tyrant named AMO. Defender 5 is slated for release by the beginning of 2001.

Neptuno Films is co-producing a 52 x 13-minute series called The Gravediggers’ Squad with regional channel TV3 for broadcast by the end of 2000. With a per-episode budget of US$150,000, the dark series stars three gravediggers who pad their incomes by solving cemetery-based mysteries like missing bodies and stolen bones. Neptuno is also in cahoots with Canal Sur for the production of Bandolero, a 52 x half-hour series about a Spanish bandit, for 2001. Neptuno Films director Cristina Brandner says teens are the primary target demo for the animated two-pack, but expects kids will tune in as well.

Whether it’s animated or live-action fare, Spain’s teen casters generally air their strongest youth offerings in two main slots: from 2:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., when high school students are at home on their mid-day break, and between 6:30 p.m. and 11:15 p.m.

Kirch/Berlusconi/Correo-owned Tele 5, which rates the third-highest in terms of ratings, was the first Spanish channel to target teens with the 1997 launch of the now emblematic series Al salir de clase (When Leaving the Classroom). Co-produced with Madrid-based Boca a Boca, the half-hour sitcom airs daily on Tele 5 at 3:30 p.m. and garners around three million viewers a day. Its initial average share of 16.4 seemed to portend a short-lived existence, but the show’s ratings have steadily climbed to the 26 share it averages these days. Al salir de clase has become the longest-running teen series in Spanish television history, with more than 500 episodes available. Budgeted at around US$30,000 per episode, the series takes up the age-old gauntlet of balancing realistic portrayals of teen life with enough entertainment value to keep viewers tuned in.

Tele 5 uses flagship series Al salir to net 24% of the total teen audience in Spain, a share that spikes up to 26.7% during the peak hours between

2 p.m. and 5 p.m. ‘Our youth audience consists of middle-class urban teenagers from cities of more than 50,000 inhabitants,’ says Miguel Morant, director of fiction at Tele 5. ‘But we’re also attracting parents of teenagers with these kinds of series.’ The channel, which yearly invests around US$10 million in teen programming, garners a lot of teens with adult-targeted fare such as Siete Vidas, Periodistas and Medico de Familia, all produced by Madrid-based prodco Globomedia. Tele 5 doesn’t currently have any foreign teen offerings in its schedule, but in past years, it has had ratings success with Aaron Spelling-owned Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place, and last year, X-Files won a 40% share of teen viewers.

Number two in the overall Spanish ratings race, Antena 3 takes the same route as Tele 5, dedicating around 15% of its schedule to teens and anchoring its teen slate with a daily afternoon soap. Nada es para siempre (Nothing is Forever), a half-hour co-pro with Galacia-based VideoVoz and Sky Quest TV, is broadcast at 2 p.m. from Monday to Friday to over two million viewers, garnering a 22.1% teen audience share. Controlled by Telefonica, the channel itself nets around 25.1% of the total teen demo. The series stars a group of students poised to enter the adult world of 9 to 5 work and responsibility, and each episode costs around US$20,000 to produce. Also in Antena 3′s teen lineup is an hour-long magazine called Desesperado Club Social, produced by BAT 3. Airing in an 11:20 a.m. slot on Saturdays, it includes music performances, interviews and newsy reports on topics of interest to teens-all presented by the Nokronos, sophisticated alien-fighting adolescent hosts.

In terms of foreign pick-ups, Antena 3 airs Disney offering Sabrina the Teenage Witch in a daily 2:30 p.m. slot that follows Nada es para siempre. The half-hour import nets 3.2 million viewers with a share of 28.8%. Overall, 40% of Antena 3′s teen sked is produced in-house, with 25% comprised of co-productions and 35% of acquisitions.

RTVE captures 19.1% of teen viewers, but unlike its on-air competitors, it does not currently carry specific programming for this demo. It concentrates, instead, on airing music fare like Musica, Si (Saturdays at noon on La Primera) and El Septimo de Caballeria (Wednesdays on La 2 at 10:30 p.m.), as well as Hyakutake (every day on La 2 from 5:45 p.m. to 7 p.m.), a block that mixes interviews with series like Touchstone TV’s half-hour sitcom Blossom and Marmalade Boy, an animated show produced by Japan-based Toei Animation. Currently, RTVE offers roughly 14 hours of teen programming a week.

* All ratings info provided by Madrid-based Sofres, Spain’s leading audience measurement company

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