drama, entertainment, Latin America, Philippines, television

The Return of the Telenovela to Philippine Free TV

Telenovelas, or the more distinguishable term Latinovelas, are making a comeback to free TV in the Philippines.

The genre, once dominant in the afternoon and evening drama blocks of the major networks, were essentially an endangered species once ‘Meteor Garden’ and other Asianovelas began to invade the small screen. Then in late 2011, the Telenovela Channel was introduced, giving dramas from Latin America a new lease on life.

Since the creation of the Telenovela Channel, several free TV networks have attempted to resuscitate the fading popularity of the telenovela. In 2013, GMA aired the Colombian series ‘Lola’ (or ‘Bella Calamidades’) . Unfortunately for the Kapuso network, low ratings forced the management to stop airing the telenovela before it can be finished.

Also that same year, Studio 23 (now ABS-CBN Sports+Action) aired the original version of the hit ABS-CBN teleserye ‘Nasaan Ka, Elisa?’. Titled ‘Donde Esta Elisa?’, the original series aired during the first half of 2013.

Then in June of this year, IBC-13 and Asian Television Content Corporation aired ‘The Two Sides of Ana’ and ‘La Teniente’ on the ‘ATC @ IBC’ block. Unlike GMA’s unexpected pullout of ‘Lola’, both IBC and ATC were more than willing to finish both series, despite their low ratings in a competitive primetime environment.

Two months later, ABS-CBN decided to bring the telenovela back to their lineup. The Brazilian drama ‘Ana Manuela’, scheduled to air starting August 18, will be the network’s first telenovela since ‘Frijolito’ in 2011.

While ABS-CBN has enjoyed ratings success over the past couple of years, the reintroduction of the telenovela is considered to be their biggest gamble yet. Nevertheless, the network hopes that ‘Ana Manuela’, like the other programs on ‘Kapamilya Gold’, will perform very well in the ratings.

The telenovela, once considered endangered on free TV thanks to Asianovelas, are relevant once again. Now the question is, how long will they remain in the minds of the viewers? Only time will tell.

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