Telemundo bowing novela on digital platforms

'Las Aparicio' to premiere online before on-air debut

Telemundo, the No. 2 U.S. network targeting Hispanics, will for the first time premiere in full a primetime novela across the network's digital platforms via a hybrid distribution model before the serial's broadcast debut.

Leveraging MSN technology, Telemundo's programming move centers on "Las Aparicio," a 120-episode soap that will launch in August at on a new HD broadband player developed specifically for Telemundo and supported by Microsoft.

The novela revolves around a family with three daughters -- a divorcee, a widow and a single woman -- without men in their lives.

"It's a very modern tale about contemporary Hispanic women and how they juggle family, work and love," Telemundo executive vp Peter Blacker said. "It's 'Sex and the City' meets 'Lipstick Jungle' -- but with a decidedly Latin twist."

Like most novelas that air on the network and unlike most of the bought-in Mexican-originated soaps that air on rival Univision, "Las Aparicio" is being produced in-house and shot by Argos Prods. at facilities in Mexico. The stars are Ximena Rubio as Mercedes, Gaby De La Garza as Alma, Liz Gallardo as Julia and Maria Del Carmen Farias as Rafaela, their mother.

"Las Aparicio" will feature English subtitles to attract the full spectrum of U.S. Hispanics. Given the sizable foreign following that Telemundo's novelas have, there will be viewing opportunities in Latin America, Europe and even Asia. Portuguese subtitles will help pull in viewers in Brazil, Portugal and even Macau.

Because of real-time metrics available for monitoring Web traffic, Telemundo will be able to keep tabs on the number of folks who interact with "Las Aparicio," from those who watch the trailer to those who sign up for several months' run.

"We'll be able to get hourly updates, and hence we can turn on marketing support in whatever market needs help," said Blacker, who previously worked for Time Warner in setting up its multicultural initiatives. At Telemundo, he oversees digital media and emerging businesses.

The digital novela will be available to viewers through two distribution channels: one that is ad-supported and one that is a pay-per-view alternative.

The ad-supported option will offer viewers extensive highlights and clips from "Las Aparicio" and provide opportunities for them to engage in real-time social media viewing experiences on connected with Twitter, Facebook and mobile devices. The PPV option brings full episodes to viewers for a monthly membership fee of $2.99 (whereby they can access any episode on demand) or for 99 cents (to watch a single episode).

The NBC Universal division produces most of its telenovelas in and around Miami, then licenses them abroad under its international head Marcos Santana.