A “cocaine godmother” has led Univision Communications to do something unprecedented in Spanish-language U.S. television.
A trio of Univision-owned networks — broadcasters Univision and UniMás and cable network Galavisión — will simulcast the premiere episode of La Viuda Negra (The Black Widow), a highly anticipated telenovela produced expressly for U.S. Hispanic audiences by Colombia’s RTI Producciones and Mexico’s Televisa, on Feb. 23 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The hourlong La Viuda Negra will officially settle into the 10 p.m. timeslot on UniMás the next evening.
La Viuda Negra tells the tale of Griselda Blanco, a Colombian woman who became infamous for murdering four husbands while becoming a central figure in the Miami drug trade during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Mexican actress Ana Serradilla, who starred in the Mexican version of Desperate Housewives (Amas de Casa Desesperadas) has been cast as Blanco.
“It’s a fascinating look into the dark world of a woman loved by some, hated by most and feared by all that will build on UniMás' commitment to deliver the best Spanish-language alternative programming to U.S. audiences," Alberto Ciurana, president of programming and content for Univision Networks, said.
To further fuel interest in La Viuda Negra, Univision newsmagazine Aqui y Ahora will focus its Feb. 23 episode on Blanco. The investigative show, which airs at 7 p.m., will include an interview with a former lover, in addition to the detectives who hunted Blanco down for years.
“By premiering her amazing, true story on our three leading networks and [featuring Blanco in] the Aqui y Ahora episode, we are creating a first-of-its-kind event in Hispanic media," Ciurana said.
UniMás is presently airing feature films on weeknights from 9 to 11 p.m. The arrival of La Viuda Negra will shift that primetime movie slot to 8 p.m. Sports report Contacto Deportivo moves from midnight to 11 p.m.
UniMás generates its big ratings from feature films and its coverage of first-division Mexican League soccer, according to Nielsen. However, the network has taken steps to draw viewers to new non-traditional dramatic series. UniMás has obtained the U.S. broadcast rights to El Varón de la Droga, a telenovela inspired by activities of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman — one of the world’s most notorious drug lords. The network unveiled the acquisition on Jan. 27 at the NATPE convention in Miami Beach, Fla. UniMás will also air Metastasis, the Spanish-language adaptation of AMC’s smash drama Breaking Bad, Univision said at its upfront last year in New York.
In an interview with Mexican daily El Universal, Ciurana said the arrival of Varón and Viuda is part of a new strategy designed to make UniMás a draw for younger Hispanic viewers — and eventually the No. 2 Spanish-language broadcast network behind older sibling Univision.
“Univision airs traditional telenovelas produced by Televisa that are very successful and have made us extremely competitive in the U.S.,” Ciurana said. “In the case of UniMás, we wish to take a totally different approach, serving as an alternative channel that can present stories such as these.”
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