Univision telenovelas with a twist: English subtitles

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Univision Communications is going bilingual. Well, sort of.

Beginning next week, the Spanish-language media giant will begin offering closed captioned English-language subtitles for its prime-time telenovelas, or soap operas. The move, announced Tuesday at the National Assn. of Television Program Executives convention in Miami, underscores the belief by TV executives that the enormously popular Latino series, which run five nights a week and can last for several months, have commercial appeal beyond their loyal Spanish-speaking fan base.

Already, the programs have catapulted Univision to the rank of the nation’s fifth most popular network. Advertisers have taken notice, intrigued by the passion of the audience and the rapid growth of the U.S. Latino population.


“The continued success of the telenovela genre speaks to its broad appeal that crosses culture and language, which is why, as part of our commitment to connect audiences to our culture, we are delivering our novela block with closed captioning in English,” Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks, said in prepared remarks.

Most of the Univision novelas are produced by Mexican powerhouse Grupo Televisa, which has an equity stake in Univision. Univision is also planning to launch a new cable TV channel in the U.S. dedicated to the soaps.

Earlier this week, another U.S. media giant -- News Corp. -- said that it was partnering with Colombian programmer RCN to form a new Spanish-language broadcast network in the U.S. called MundoFox. It is expected to launch in the fall. Others have joined the stampede to attract the Latino audience. Last month, online video service Hulu began providing Spanish-language programming.

Univision is currently airing “Una Familia Con Suerte” (“A Fortunate Family”) and “La Que No Podia Amar” (“The One That Couldn’t Love”). On Monday, the New York-based Univision will roll out its highly anticipated telenovela, “El Talismán,” produced by Univision Studios and the Venezuelan company Venevision.


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-- Meg James