Univision to End 'Sabado Gigante' After 53 Years

Don Francisco Sabado Gigante - H 2015
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Don Francisco Sabado Gigante - H 2015

Host and creator Don Francisco will continue contributing to the network.

Univision has announced that its top-rated variety show Sabado Gigante is ending after a more-than-53-year run. The show, hosted and created by Don Francisco, will air its final episode on Sept. 19.

Francisco, whose real name is Mario Kreutzberger, will continue contributing to the Univision Network with new projects and by hosting entertainment specials and campaigns like TeletonUSA, the network's annual benefit for disabled children. He will also help Univision look for and develop new on-air talent and professionals.

Sabado Gigante launched in 1962 on Chile's Channel 13, began in the U.S. in 1986, and is still No. 1 on Saturday nights among Hispanics. The weekly, three-hour show is the longest-running variety series in television history and Univision's longest running program.

In 2013, Univision added cohosts Chiquinquira Delgado, host of Univision's morning show Despierta America, and telenovela host Julian Gil to Sabado Gigante's team. The Hispanic network has also been trying to modernize its lineup.

“During my 40 years in the industry I have met few people with the same energy, creativity and passion for television and the audience as Mario, and I join in celebrating him and his team at Sabado Gigante for the great success and the milestones achieved in broadcast television,” Univision Communications CEO Randy Falco said in a statement. “Mario is an important part of the Univision family, and his knowledge of the industry and commitment to innovation will help us to continue defining the future of the media industry."

Kreutzberger (aka Francisco) added: “I’m excited to share with the audience this announcement, with which we’re starting to bring to a close the 53-year cycle of Sabado Gigante, 30 of which were possible thanks to Univision in the United States. There is no doubt that they have been fundamental in my professional development and in my personal and family life. I’m so grateful for the opportunity that Channel 13 of the Universidad Catolica de Chile gave me as I was starting out, to Univision in the United States and also to the Televisa Network, which allowed us to bring our Sabado Gigante into the homes of millions of families in the United States and the world every week. I have no words to thank our viewers for the support, loyalty and enthusiasm with which they have honored us through the years and which have allowed the show to become an unprecedented success in the history of this medium."