Television and the Short Novel – part 1 of 3

Normally, I don’t get excited about the announcement of new programming, or of new programming sources. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not excited now, either.

But I am intrigued with Fox’s new My Network TV, which will launch September 5 of this year.

When UPN (owned by CBS) and the WB (owned by Time Warner) announced they would merge to form the CW this fall, it left all ten of Rupert Murdock’s News Corporation stations in major markets facing a future with no programming.

News Corporation also owns the Fox network, who quickly announced the formation of My Network TV.

A year ago News Corporation purchased MySpace dot com, a web destination that reportedly has eighty-five million users. So far, MySpace is known as a young people’s social networking site as well as a good vehicle for selling new music.

So, it’s really no surprise that My Network TV is going to be targeted to the eighteen-to-thirty-four crowd. However, it appears to me that My Network TV is targeted to an even narrower (and faster growing) demographic: the eighteen-to-thirty-four Hispanic market.

Across the US Hispanics represent just over 10% of all households. But in the cities that make up My Network’s initial affiliates Hispanics account for over a third of all homes.

In markets like Southern California, nearly half of the Hispanic residents are under 25. And all across America the vast majority of younger Hispanics are bilingual.

In many of those markets, the local Spanish language TV stations lead the market in ratings, and identify themselves as “Nuestro Canal” or “Tu Canal” (Our Channel or Your Channel).

The new network is called My Network. Hummm. You be the judge.

Let’s look at the programming.

My Network will broadcast only twelve hours per week. There will be two serialized hour-long dramas for the first season called “Desire” and “Secret Obsessions.” New episodes will air every weeknight, with a weekly recap on Saturday.

Each story will run for 13 weeks, and be replaced with another telenovela (Spanish for Short Novel). Univision and other Spanish language broadcasters have found this format to be a hit with their viewers. With the popularity of such television drama as Lost, Gray’s Anatomy, and Desperate Housewives, don’t be surprised if the English speaking market warms up to the telenovela format as well.

Other shows in the works include a fake psychologist who falls in love with a patient; a reality show searching for top models; a contest show with prizes for trivia knowledge; the story of a pilot and an heiress who survive a plane crash; and a Fox-developed investigative crime series.

Yup. I’m intrigued by My Network TV, because it appears to target young English-speaking Hispanics.

And, just as Spanish words have become part of mainstream America, just as Mexican dishes have become regular American fare, the telenovela will become a staple of younger Americans, too.


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