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Novelas Are Caliente

30 Nov, 2005 By: Angelique Flores

With the growth of both TV DVD and Latino product, it only seems obvious that telenovelas have carved out a growing niche in the marketplace.

“We are on the cusp of the TV DVD craze,” said Soumya Sriraman, VP of marketing and operations for Universal Music & Video Distribution, which distributes product for Xenon Pictures. Xenon has a deal with Mexican Televisa Home Entertainment, one of the biggest producers of novelas, two of which are top-selling: Amor Real and Rub?.

Forty-four percent of Hispanics surveyed had watched a telenovela in the past week, according to a recent study from International Communication Research. It seems many of them are buying DVDs too.

Amor Real was released on DVD April 26. It broke TV viewing records in Mexico and the United States, according to Xenon. On Amazon.com, it has been among the top 10 selling Latino DVDs of all genres. More than 120,000 units of Amor Real have been shipped in the United States, and more than 75,000 units of Xenon's Rub? have been shipped since its June 7 release.

It's the first time a novela has broken 100,000, Xenon CEO Leigh Savidge said. He added that returns are at only 2 pecent.

Low price points — two-disc sets for $19.99, three-disc sets for $24.99 — also seem to help sales.

Consumers buying novelas on DVD are mostly Spanish-speakers in their 20s and older. But more non-Spanish-speakers are buying the novelas, too. Some use the discs to learn Spanish, Savidge said. Amor Real was Xenon's first DVD subtitled in English. All of Xenon's future novela releases also will be subtitled.

UMVD has pushed the novela titles on Televisa, which ran ads on its network. Bus wraps for Amor Real and Rub? were part of the marketing campaign in the Los Angles area.

“We saw the sales in L.A. spike,” Sriraman said.

Blockbuster stores also have a dedicated section for Televisa novelas, she said. Target had the titles among their top five selling items in their stores, Sriraman said, and the growth doesn't seem to be stopping.

Xenon isn't the only company noticing the popularity of telenovelas. Imavision is in talks with top Spanish-language program producer TV Azteca for North American distribution of some of some of its series.

“This is category that we caught at the perfect time,” Sriraman said.

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