The transmedia narrative as a business: Totalmente Demais/Total Dreamer spin-off

In addition to other initiatives of transmedia narratives related to Totalmente Demais/Total Dreamer (2016), one month before the end of the telenovela, the station executives suggested the production of ten spin-off episodes for the internet after the telenovela ended on the air. Spin-offs of telenovela plots and characters are not new. The series О Bern Amado/The Well-Loved, exhibited between 1980 and 1984 by TV Globo, originated from the homonymous telenovela written by Dias Gomes in 1973. Mario Fofoca, a clumsy detective, played by Luis Gustavo and created by Cassiano Gabus Mendes for the telenovela El as por Elas (1982), became a television series the following year and afterwards a film. One difference between these experiences and of the Totalmente Demais/Total Dreamer spin-off is the media: the internet, with its characteristics, such as nonlinear display, allows the viewer to choose when, where and how to watch.

The experience of the Totalmente Demais/Total Dreamer spin-off was also an opportunity to observe if the extended content of a successful telenovela on the internet would harm the audience of the new one on the air. The strategy of the company up to then was to avoid the extension of the telcnovela and, consequently, of affection.

After a meeting with the team, we agreed that the series would be an opportunity for collaborators to get credit as writers for each of the episodes they would be entirely responsible for. Collaborators or staff writers usually write only dialogues of scenes already described in step outlines by the telenovela’s head authors. Moreover, the work of the collaborators would decrease in the final stretch of the teleno vela, which was not the case for the head writers - we proposed only to supervise the spin-off.

The writing team conceived the episodes according to a previous agreement with the production and directors of the telenovela, using fewer actors and compact sets. As observed earlier, a telenovela is written with several different plots and nuclei to make the product viable. For the spin-off, we chose a nucleus that had a humorous streak. We assumed that it would be more compatible with the media - the internet - and this nucleus also had actors who had greater visibility on social networks. The company adjusted salaries, extending the contracts of those involved until the end of the spinoff production.

Unlike the chapter zero experiment, the spin-off had no promotional value for the telenovela, since the mothership narrative was no longer on the air. Therefore it had to be profitable on its own.

Avon had exclusive sponsorship and merchandising rights in Totalmente Demais/Total Dreamer. The spin-off was an opportunity for the station’s commercial department to seek new partners among beauty products companies, since Avon showed no interest. Risque wanted to promote a new line of nail varnish and sponsored the spin-off, with merchandising scenes in some episodes. The brand’s director, Regiane Bueno, in an interview at the time remarked:

Risque is a modem and bold brand, hence the decision to participate in a pioneering project like this. We understand that it is important to expand the range of communication with our consumers, opening a new channel to inform about our news firsthand, including for customers who are at the same time tuned to the Internet and TV.

(Adncws, 2016)

Episodes were made available on Globoplay twice a week on specific days and the total views exceeded 4 million. During the exhibition on the internet, the chapters of the telenovela on the air, Haja Coraqao/Have a Heart, had a considerable audience on television. This way, the fear of one telenovela sabotaging the audience of the other, even in different media, ceased to exist. The Brazilian audience is multiplatform. Experiences overlap and do not replace one another. Later the content of the spin-off also ended up on open television for two consecutive weeks during the afternoon programme Video Show.

Stations try to absorb advertisers who migrate to other digital platforms from their digital platforms, and the Totalmente Demais/Total Dreamer spin-off was just one example of those initiatives. The search for a new business model based on subscribers and allied to the sliding of telenovelas to digital platforms brings new challenges for broadcasters. For November 2020, Globoplay announced a spin-off of the telenovela Malhaqao/ Young Hearts, season 2017/18 by head writer Cao Hamburguer, exclusively for subscribers. Along with an original series of ten episodes with the characters years later, Globoplay is also producing a documentary about the process and a talk show with the actresses.

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