No mere bubble for free-to-air soaps in Costa Rica

Juan Fernandez Gonzalez | 02-12-2013

Over 7% of Costa Rica's TV programming is soap operas, representing 387 hours per month, according to research by the national newspaper La Nación.

The research reveals just how much the genre has become popular among audiences and essential for channels and advertisers over the last 30 years in Costa Rica as it has in many other Latin American countries.
The soaps broadcast by the national channels 4, 6, 7, 9, 13 and 42 come from Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and the US, and represent 7.38% of the free-to-air schedule. There are only two channels which are not currently broadcasting any soap operas. Canal 4 has the highest number of series on its schedule, with 131 hours a month.
According to La Nación, soap operas were nearly non-existent on national TV in the eighties. In 30 years the number of hours that soap operas air per day has grown 135%. This has been partly driven by an increase in the number of channels on offer.
The Costa Rican channels select foreign productions according to their ratings and the universality of their stories to ensure success with audiences.
The telenovelas are also a great platform for advertisers. Ana Xótchil, an expert from the University of Costa Rica, who is quoted in the research, explained that soap operas usually comprise over 100 episodes, allowing channels to programme them over six months, thus creating specific audience habits. In addition, the soap operas are produced under a strictly commercial format, in which the story's pace responds to advert breaks.