ABC Family Enters the Teen Telenovela Business

Teen telenovelas (or teenenovelas as we like to call them!), are all the rage right now—and for good reason. In June, Nickelodeon renewed House of Anubis—its first ever telenovela aimed at children and teens—for a second season, after the show posted huge numbers in its first year. 'Anubis,' which stars 19-year-old Spanish actress Nathalia Ramos and follows a group of students who solve hidden mysteries at an English boarding school, averaged 1.2 million kids ages 6-11 and 1.0 million tweens ages 9-14 when it aired five nights a week during its January and February run, and it beat hit shows like, Glee, Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl among all kids and tweens.

EXCLUSIVE: 'House of Anubis' Star Nathalia Ramos On Connecting "With Spanish-Speaking Teens All Around The World”

Nickelodeon Latin America found similar success in May when it aired the teen telenovela, "Grachi," the story of a tween with magical powers (ala Wizards of Waverly Place), which delivered huge ratings prompting the network to order an extra 50 hour-long episodes on top of the 75 it had already shot. That same month, MTV Latin America also saw huge success when it aired its first teen telenovela, Ninas Mal (Charm School) and the network was so thrilled with the show's success that it announced plans to begin production on a second telenovela called Popland. "For now, we are producing one telenovela a year, but we may make at least two a year in the future," Fernando Gaston, the Senior VP of content at MTV Networks Latin America said at the time. 

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Popland, which explores the world of celebrities and the paparazzi who stalk them, started shooting 70 one-hour episdoes in June. In the U.S. the show will air on MTV Tr3s in the fall, which should bode well for the network considering that in the U.S, five million viewers tuned into Ninas Mal on Tr3s, while the show’s website registered 2.5 million visits.

EXCLUSIVE: Univision's Cesar Conde On Why Telenovelas Are Winning While English Soaps Are Dying

Other networks are noticing the success of these teen telenovelas, and now ABC Family is announcing that it too will board the telenovela train with an adaptation of Terminales, a Mexican telenovela which chronicles the life of young and successful publicist  named April Marquez, who is diagnosed with terminal character. ABC Family is fast tracking the show and trying to get it on the air as soon as possible, and who can blame them? According to recent Census numbers, one in four children (nearly a quarter of all children in the United States) are Latino, which means that over the course of the next ten years, those kids will be entering their teenage years. It would be foolish of TV networks not to create content aimed specifically at one of the fastest growing segments in America.

Of course, teen telenovelas are nothing new: In 1991, Mexican actress Kate del Castillo starred in one of the most popular teen telenovelas of all-time, Muchachitas! but it looks like U.S. networks are finally starting to catch up.

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