For many years in Argentina, subscription or basic cable-satellite TV service, was considered "alternative television": TV that viewers paid for if they wanted to see something different from broadcast television. More than 10 years ago, at the start of subscription television in Argentina, movie channels abounded on basic cable and satellite services. Today, these TV channels are entering a new phase, incorporating locally produced content with exclusive slots reserved for the transmission of telenovelas. Programmers of those channels are no longer thinking of themselves as purveyors of "alternative television." They are more concerned with beating the ratings of the over-the-air channels.
Programmers brought telenovelas to basic subscription TV in an effort to attract females, who make up most of the audience of telenovelas on broadcast television.
Cosmopolitan TV, an Argentina-based pan-regional channel, in particular, was determined to challenge over-the-air television. In 2006, the channel, a joint venture between John Malone's Liberty Global, and Hearst Entertainment, began airing the telenovela Locas de Amor. It was so well received that Cosmopolitan TV decided to include more telenovelas in its schedule. In February 2007, Cosmopolitan placed Brazilian soap opera El Clon in the highly desirable 7 p.m. time slot, which according to ratings service Ibope-Telereport, attracted record audiences, particularly women. The series' success placed Cosmopolitan TV among the top five most watched subscription channels in all of Latin America.
After the success of El Clon, the evening time slots became a new home for telenovelas on subscription TV. "El Clan did fantastically well," explained Lucia Suarez, director of Content for Liberty Global-owned Pramer, which distributes Cosmopolitan TV in Latin America. "Their audience is now as faithful as that of any over-the-air channel. And since subscription TV services rerun their telenovelas, unlike network TV, they give viewers the opportunity to catch episodes that they missed."
Subscription TV channels in Argentina are also buying content that was successful in other territories, especially in Brazil. At the beginning of this year, three programs from Brazil's Globo TV occupied afternoon slots on Cosmopolitan TV, soap Lazos de Familia, and two miniseries: La Presencia de Anita and Mujeres Apasionadas. In May, Pramer decided to develop a soap of its own for Cosmopolitan TV...