Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rival Chilean Soaps Battle It Out

The annual Chilean soap opera war took off unexpectedly Monday evening when Universidad Catolica’s Channel 13 premiered their telenovela CUENTA CONMIGO (Count on Me) earlier than expected and without previous announcement.

Channel 13’s Monday premiere was obviously meant to ruffle the feathers of the state-owned National TV station (Channel 7) since CUENTA CONMIGO was launched on the same night that TVN held a large scheduled publicity event for its competing soap opera LOS EXITOSOS PELLS (The Successful Pells) in Santiago’s Plaza de Armas.

Channel 13’s move prompted TVN to debut their soap opera the following day — almost a week earlier than the planned March 9 premiere.

Soaps are the most popular television programs in Chile and throughout most of the rest of Latin America. They are the flagship programs for their networks and their success or failure often determines the bulk of advertising revenue a network can expect.

In Chile, unlike in other Latin American countries, television stations rather than private companies produce soap operas. This direct investment of resources intensifies competition between the networks.

The rivalry between the Catholic church-owned Canal 13 and state-owned TVN is age-old, as is the early-premiere tactic in the multimillion-dollar soap opera industry. Last year, for example, both networks debuted their major soap operas ahead of schedule hoping to sneak ahead of the competition.

Though it is too early in the “war” to predict a winner, TVN’s LOS EXITOSOS PELLS received higher ratings for its premiere than the competition.

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