After 53 years on the air, Spanish-language television’s best-known and most watched show Sábado Gigante is saying bye-bye.
The show, hosted from the onset by Mario Kreutzberger, better known as Don Francisco, will air its final episode on Sept. 19, 2015, coinciding with the end of the 2014-2015 broadcast television season.
Don Francisco will continue to contribute to Univision and host specials on the network, which has been his U.S. home for the past 30 years.
Sábado Gigante, originally launched in Don Francisco’s native Chile in 1962, was as quirky as it was successful. The three-hour weekly program, which aired Saturday evenings on Univision, was a frenetic mix of performances, interviews, humor, contests, sing-alongs and brazen advertising, with products touted by Don Francisco on the air.
That cornucopia, led by Don Francisco — a genial, fatherly figure who wore tailored suits and was accompanied by beautiful girls — was hugely successful with audiences.
But although Sábado Gigante enjoyed huge ratings, they had dipped in recent years, and the show wasn’t as successful with young adults, the big advertising target today.
For the week ending April 12, for example, Sabado Gigante saw week-to-week growth among Total Viewers 2+, with a 34 percent increase to 2.1 millions. But only 372,000 of those were young adults.
Even now, Sábado Gigante continues to be the most-watched variety show in Spanish language television, and a powerful marketing tool for artists, both new and established.
For them, the loss of Sábado Gigante is a blow, because a performance on the show was sure to generate engagement online and generate sales.
“From the start we made sure to ask, ‘What does the audience want?!’, said Kreutzberger in a statement. “And we have worked tirelessly for precisely that audience, with the utmost dedication, humility and deep respect […]When we began in the United States in 1986, we told them that we were ‘separated by distance and united by the same language.’ Today I can say with great pride and satisfaction that that distance turned into closeness and affection.”