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Are soap operas becoming popular again because of coronavirus?

Although many think that streaming services will put an end to television soap operas, reality seems to prove otherwise .

Couple watching television sitting in armchair

Because of the pandemic, soap operas regained their popularity. / Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

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Leer en español: ¿Están volviendo a popularizarse las telenovelas debido al coronavirus?

We have more free time in our homes. That implies, of course, new forms of leisure. From playing video games, starting a book or simply watching television. Well, this last option seems to be really popular today, leading to a great surprise: there are many people interested in soap operas.

The New York Times highlighted that, according to Televisa's audience ratings, more than ten million people saw the end of Te doy la vida, a story that aired in early July. This set a record for the most views on the network since 2016, given that, as mentioned by the former Televisa and Univisión executive, "the number of views suddenly went up."

Another of the most successful novels of today is the iconic Pasión de gavilanes. According to Semana, 17 years later, this Colombian story "captivates millions", since it combines good melodrama and aesthetics. Faced with this situation, we decided to see what could be the keys that demonstrate the possible return to the popularity of this type of content.

Telenovelas are once again being chosen by users

The time we spend on television is changing the way we consume content. Recently, the media Clarín highlighted that the soap opera Rubí "is one of the successes and surprises of 2020". It is a remake of the original from 1968, which already had another adaptation in 2004, demonstrating the ability to readjust to current times.

As we could well see, these are not isolated cases: people seem to be re-interested in the stories that are transmitted "live", without having to go to streaming platforms. In the first place, we could consider it a kind of "virtual meeting", where people discuss the episodes at the same time they are broadcast, something that does not happen with Netflix series, to cite an example, which are already preloaded and can be consumed at any time.

Another interesting case is that of the Turkish show Todo por mi hija, which, according to the El Nuevo Día website, captivates the audience of Wapa TV. In this sense, we also observe that they do not necessarily have to be local productions, but that many television channels decide to buy the rights to import exotic stories, from countries with foreign cultures for us.

Also read: Where to watch the 5 most nominated series for the 2020 Emmys

Perhaps that is why the El Tiempo media observes that Colombian television was "the best company", since it is there to tell us stories that fascinate us. That is to say, we observe love, the idols of the people and even the nostalgia for other times, where there was no pandemic that limited the bond with others.

The most interesting thing about all this is that soap operas do not seem to compete with streaming platforms, but rather that they complement each other. For example,  El Español reports that Netflix doubled the estimate of new users and added another 16 million during this pandemic, which would mean that, in addition to watching content on this service, television is still being watched regularly.

Therefore, we could say that the consumption of soap operas allows us to do a daily follow-up, perhaps at dinner time, to comment on a simple story with the family or on social media. On the other hand, streaming content can be something more personal, where we have a smaller number of chapters (as in series).

In other words, the ability to comment "live" on what is happening, a vital characteristic of television , is lost, but that does not mean that we do not have space to watch it, since television and streaming seem to complement each other. Will it be the change of an era or the demonstration that all content works? It seems that time will tell.