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'Galactica' Soars in Spanish

Looking to broaden its appeal among Latino viewers, Sci Fi is expanding its outreach horizons: Its upcoming Battlestar Galactica miniseries will become cable's first original drama available in closed-captioned Spanish.

The miniseries adaptation — starring Edward James Olmos as Commander Adama (the character portrayed by Lorne Greene in the 1978-79 ABC series), premiering Dec. 8 and 9 at 9 p.m. (ET) — will also be the subject of a special half-hour program for Cable in the Classroom.

Olmos will narrate the documentary for CIC in both English and Spanish. The show is available Mondays at 5:30 a.m. ET/PT from Nov. 17 to Dec. 29 on Sci Fi's Web site,

Sci Fi president Bonnie Hammer said the initiative is borne out of the network's "wanting to attract new audiences and affiliates seeking out the 'nevers' to get new subscribers."

Segment Potential

Last year, segmentation research from Lieberman Research Worldwide among satellite and cable viewers indicated that 37% of the Hispanic respondents were Sci Fi watchers, versus 43% for Caucasians. However, among those who didn't watch the network, 38% of Latinos said they were potential viewers, compared to 27% of Caucasians.

"There is some potential to be mined with this group," said a Sci Fi research executive.

In addition to running promos on its own air and heralding Battlestar Galactica's captioning component on its Web site, Sci Fi is helping MSOs to get the message out via collateral pieces and taggable spots that can be branded over a closing segment that reads "subtitulos en Español."

Network officials said operators and interconnects in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and certain Texas DMAs have committed to run the spots.

For his part, Olmos will participate in a Spanish satellite media tour to tout the miniseries and the captioning element. Executives also said that "grassroots" efforts are being made to get stories placed in Latino newspapers and newsletters, while Sci Fi is also considering against various Hispanic newscasts on Canal Sur.

Hammer said Latinos are one of the "audience groups we should be reaching out to more." She said Hispanics have an "affinity for the supernatural and spiritual matters," interests that could also match well with a couple of Sci Fi series set for 2004

In Dead Lawyers, deceased barristers are forced to return to Earth and undo the injustices they have wrought on their clients, pro bono. Mad Mad House will be home to "normal people" competing to stay in a residence home to a vampire, voodoo priest and a naturalist.

Back on board Battlestar Galactica, Sci Fi is also making the 30-minute CIC program available to operators for placement on its origination channels, or free on-demand services.

Sci Fi's special — which marks the first time a non-Spanish network has broadcast in the language for CIC — will be supplemented by curriculum materials generated by the service for high-school students and teachers. The Battlestar Galactica presentation will explore media literacy, satire and film criticism through the prism of science fiction.

"Sci Fi has always been very active with Cable in the Classroom. This marks the first time a program has been produced in English and Spanish," said Hammer.

Scripts and Sponsorships

In another first, Sci Fi allowed New York ad agency OMD Worldwide to read an early script for next summer's supernatural miniseries Five Days to Midnight. The media shop has committed at least 10 of its clients, including FedEx, Sony Playstation and Cingular, to sponsor the five-night production.

"We always like to be first, but we took a big risk," said Hammer. "We didn't give them a look at the final script, but they could have hated what they saw and not spent a dime with us.

"[Universal Television Group president of ad sales] Jeff Lucas did a brilliant job with this, and I'm sure that given the right projects and the right clients, it's something we would do again."