In a bid to up its game in the increasingly competitive arena of Spanish-language content, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises has acquired leading Argentine production company, Underground Producciones., the shingle behind such hits as “100 Days to Fall in Love,” “El Marginal” and Argentina’s 2019 International Oscar submission, “The Angel.” The financial terms were not disclosed.
Telemundo’s new wholly-owned subsidiary will continue under the leadership of its director general, artistic director and driving force Sebastián Ortega who joins the development and creative team of Telemundo Global Studios.
“This union represents a new era and a huge leap in artistic evolution for all of us on the team,” said Ortega who began his television career in 2001 at Argentine broadcaster Telefe, before heading artistic direction at shingle, Ideas del Sur. He founded Underground in 2005, building it to become one of the most successful – and earliest – independent TV production companies in Latin America.
Last year, Telemundo adapted Underground’s ratings hit “El Marginal” – now on its third season in Argentina – renaming it “El Recluso” for the U.S. Hispanic market. Touted as Telemundo’s first short-format scripted series, the prison thriller ranked as the number one regularly-scheduled program in Spanish-language television during its 13-episode run in weekday primetime, according to Nielsen.
In October, Telemundo begins production of its version of “100 Days to Fall in Love,” a ratings leader on Viacom-owned Telefe in Argentina. at its state-of-the-art Miami headquarters.
“Acquiring Underground Producciones is a strategic investment to help us meet the growing demand for high quality, cutting-edge Spanish-language content in the U.S. and around the world,” said Marcos Santana, president, Telemundo Global Studios, who noted that both companies had been in conversation for some time.
The last time Telemundo acquired a company was in 2007 when it absorbed Santana’s Tepuy Int’l and made him president of Telemundo International.
In a phone call from Buenos Aires, Santana said that the vision to join forces was spurred by both companies’ ambition to produce more original premium Latino content at a larger scale, encompassing not only series, but films and documentaries.
“The idea is to generate more universally appealing content not only for NBCUniversal Telemundo’s broadcast and digital outlets but also for third-party platforms,” he said, alluding to Netflix, Amazon Prime and the upcoming Apple TV Plus, among others.
Telemundo, which began producing in-house content in 2007, made history last season by ending as the leading Spanish-language network in weekday primetime for two consecutive years. Powered by its original shows such as “La Reina del Sur,” “Betty en NY” and its exclusive Spanish-language coverage of the FIFA World Cup on both men and women’s tourneys, Telemundo continues to narrow its audience share gap with arch rival Univision.