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Telemundo’s ‘Celia’ Sees Early Success

Celia, Telemundo’s first “bio-musical,” is helping the network narrow the audience gap with longtime leader Univision on weeknights at 8 p.m.

Celia, the biographical novela about the Cuban salsa superstar Celia Cruz, has averaged some 771,000 viewers age 18-49 on weeknights at 8 p.m. during its premiere week of Oct. 12-18, up from Reina de Corazones’s 404,000 viewers in that timeslot a year ago, according to Nielsen estimates. 

Thus, Telemundo now trails Univision by “only” 86,000 viewers in the key advertiser demographic at 8 p.m. A year ago, the gap between Telemundo and first-place Univision was 1.5 million viewers.

For the week ending Oct. 25, Celia was the No. 9 among viewers 2-plus, attracting an average audnience of 1.71 milliom viewers. That’s slightly fewer viewers than Señora Acero, Telemundo’s 10 p.m. “Super Series” telenovela, and slightly less than the 7 p.m. edition of its popular courtroom show Caso Cerrado.

Celia airs opposite Univision’s Antes Muerto que Lichita, a Mexican telenovela produced by Rosy Ocampo for Televisa. The series stars actress and singer Maite Perroni with a theme song sung by veteran Latin pop singer Thalía.

According to Nielsen, Perroni’s telenovela attracted an average 2.03 million viewers aged 2-plus. Considering Perroni’s pull among key Hispanic millennial audiences, Celia will be a bonafide smash if the ratings success continues.

Celia is a first for Spanish-language broadcast television, as it borrows from the success of English-language primetime soaps Empire and Glee by injecting musical performances into the storyline.

Portraying Cruz in her younger years is Jeimy Osorio; newcomer Aymee Nuviola has been cast the older Cruz. Contemporary salsa music star La India is contributing to the show’s soundtrack.

In other Telemundo news, the post-Sábado Gigante war for Saturday-night viewers is on, as the Nov. 7 premiere of ¡Qué Noche! con Angelica y Raul attracted 538,000 adults aged 18-49. By comparison, Sabadazo — Univision’s successor to the long-running Sábado Gigante — attracted some 465,000 adults aged 18-49.

¡Qué Noche! is hosted by veteran telenovela actress Angelica Vale and Raul Gonzalez, who left Univision in March 2014 after a 12-year tenure as a co-anchor on Despierta América, the network’s morning show.