Upfront Navigator: MYNETWORKTV: Breaking New Programming Ground with Telenovelas

May 15, 2006  •  Post A Comment

While The CW’s fall prime-time lineup is likely to remain a mystery up until the moment it is announced this Thursday, don’t expect any surprises from MyNetworkTV-it told the world about its fall shows months ago.

MyTV, which was introduced to advertisers Feb. 22 by Fox parent company News Corp., was formed in reaction to the demise of UPN and The WB and the creation of The CW by CBS Corp. and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

When CBS and Warner Bros. made their surprise announcement of The CW Jan. 24, Fox suddenly found itself without prime-time programming for its major-market UPN stations. News Corp. went into action to form an alternative programming service. In addition, Fox’s sister company Twentieth Television pulled back from local stations its syndicated English-language telenovela strip scheduled to debut this summer and made the first two closed-ended series, “Table for Three” and “Fashion House,” the linchpin of the new network’s 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. (ET) schedule for the fall. MyTV will also schedule Saturday nights with one-hour recap shows covering plot developments on the telenovelas over the course of that week.

Even though MyTV has talked up the English-language telenovela as programming for the next generation of viewers-particularly English-speaking Hispanics-scheduling the network with telenovelas was a defensive move, said Shari Ann Brill, VP and director of programming for Carat USA.

“It was a stopgap measure,” Ms. Brill said. “These are shows Twentieth was trying to sell at [the National Association of Broadcasters convention in February]. This was almost a quick maneuver.”

MyTV has added name talent including Bo Derek to the cast of “Obsessions,” and is in production on additional telenovelas. In February Fox said it was developing reality series, a newsmagazine strip and a game show. But even if the development discussed in February doesn’t pan out, MyTV is unlikely to have only telenovelas for long, Ms. Brill said.

“I can’t imagine this is the extent of their vision,” she said. “There is a grander vision at work so that we really see that they are in fact a network.”