Next premiere El Conquistador, RTVE's "winning asset" of more than 5.5 million euros

If you ask any Basque what El Conquistador is, their answer will almost certainly be "it is a social phenomenon"

Next premiere El Conquistador, RTVE's "winning asset" of more than 5.5 million euros

If you ask any Basque what El Conquistador is, their answer will almost certainly be "it is a social phenomenon". They don't exaggerate. The Euskadi public television program produced by Hostoil Produkzioak (The Mediapro Studio) is not only the exception that confirms the rule on current television, but also a true milestone: with 19 seasons, El Conquistador has maintained its success since its premiere in 2005. with audience averages that exceed 20% of the screen share.

With these data it was more than foreseeable that sooner or later a national television would go after this goose that laid the golden eggs. What has been surprising is that it has not been Atresmedia or Mediaset, but rather the one who has put the offer on the table and won the contest is RTVE.

"It is difficult to predict if the public channel has succeeded with this bet," explains José Manuel Eleta, deputy director of Barlovento Comunicación, "but it is about those prime time products that are programmed without fear and without looking for the gaps in the public that goes leaving the competition on different nights of the week.

To get an idea of ​​what El Conquistador has meant in these almost 20 years for ETB, the premiere of its nineteenth season last January had a 24% audience share. A fact that few programs currently reach, and more so, on regional television.

Here there is epic, there is pain, real crying... And this can only be given by a program like this

"The key to the format is that it's true and very different from any survival show," says Amparo Castellano, director of nonfiction at The Mediapro Studio. But it's not just that. Of course, El Conquistador is not a typical survival program, in El Conquistador you really suffer and "you see the limits of people, both physically and mentally," says Cesc Escolà, fitness trainer and one of the three captains - the others are Joana Pastrana and Patxi Salinas- from the new national adventure of El Conquistador. In addition, El Conquistador has an ace up its sleeve that few programs have: it succeeds among young people.

"Not only has it been able to reunite the family around the television, but it has also garnered spectacular ratings among young people, an audience that is very elusive from linear television," explains Eleta.

"Young people have jumped on the bandwagon in a spectacular way," says Castellano. "In the Basque Country it is a true social phenomenon and it has spread to Latin America or Australia. So at RTVE we hope to win over viewers from all over Spain," he concludes.

All in all, El Conquistador "is a winning trump card that comes on a smooth streak for RTVE," adds Eleta. And a "winning trick" is precisely what a public channel like RTVE needs, which little by little and thanks to its director of general content, José Pablo López, is beginning to put strong pressure on private channels.

The only question is whether there is any precedent for programs on regional television that made the leap to national television and did not end in failure. There are not many. "The precedents are located in other radically different formats such as Madrid Directo or Madrileños around the World, which have nothing to do with a great prime time format," says Eleta. Formats that, moreover, did not come to match the success achieved on Telemadrid.

But, indeed, these cases have little to do with the phenomenon of El Conquistador. In fact, RTVE sources say that the channel "has all its hopes pinned on the program and hopes that it will boost audiences for the public entity."

Of course, the hens that lay the golden eggs are not cheap nor are they free. The Board of Directors of the Public Corporation approved a few months ago the contract proposal with Hostoil Produkzioak for the production of 14 episodes of El Conquistador for an amount of 5,653,101 euros plus VAT. A not inconsiderable amount for a television program, no matter how high its production is due to its dynamics - the team posted to the Dominican Republic is made up of more than 250 people.

In other words, the jump from the Basque to national television program can be compared to the costs that a large fiction blockbuster would entail, which are usually around 5 or 5.5 million euros. Now, if you start to add all the production that El Conquistador carries with it -392,857 euros per chapter- the amount is more than reasonable for the benefit that is expected to be obtained from it.

However, although it may seem a scandalous amount for a public television, this time the experts are clear that RTVE has made the best of bets. "Getting to a 14% or 15% share would already be a success for the program," they say. RTVE has no doubts that they will not only reach these screen quotas but that they could surpass them, unseating, if they succeeded, the until now jewel in the crown of public television, MasterChef.

Adventure contests and endurance and overcoming tests are always highly accepted by the public. At the beginning of Survivors, for example, when it was more of a contest than a reality show and the participants were not famous but anonymous, the audience data was as astronomical as that of El Conquistador on ETB.

We wanted to make the toughest adventure show in the world.

"We wanted to make the toughest adventure program in the world," says Patxi Alonso, general director of Hostoil, who reveals that for this new edition on La 1 "the program has been modernized", but clarifies that "it is not an Ironman ": "There are elite athletes and people who want to get out of their comfort zone. Spectators will feel identified."

In fact, one of the concerns of the ETB jump is the acceptance of the program at a national level. However, again the data has removed any dark clouds. Since RTVE opened the registrations and until it closed, 1,500 people signed up, of which only 33 of these, 18 men and 15 women, have been recording the 14 installments in the Caribbean since May 25.

Divided into three teams, for a month and in the wildest environmental conditions, these 33 people will face challenges rarely seen on television in the complicated enclaves of Los Haitises National Park. There they will be accompanied by the master of ceremonies of El Conquistador, Julián Iantzi, and Raquel Sánchez Silva, who returns to an adventure program after her time on Survivors and Beijing Express.

"It will be the experience of their lives, because the satisfaction is proportional to the suffering," says Iantzi, who knows the program well after 19 years as a presenter. "Here there is epic, there is real pain, real crying... And this can only be given by an adventure program like this one," says Sánchez Silva.

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