"Sábado Gigante," the longest-running show on Univision — and probably the longest-running variety show on television — will go off the air September 19. Host Don Francisco, whose real name is Mario Kreutzberger, will host specials for Univision and continue as the emcee for the telethon "TeletonUSA." He began a form of the show in 1962 in his native Chile. It moved to Univision in 1986. The LA Times story says that "Sábado Gigante" airs in more than 40 countries and has about two million viewers in the United States, mostly in Miami, New York and Los Angeles.
The show has helped Univision to rank No. 6 in the advertiser-coveted demographic of adults 18 to 49 on Saturday nights, regardless of language.
For many Latinos — Spanish-speaking or not — Don Francisco and "Sábado Gigante" have been a form of entertainment comfort food. And how could they not be? Most Latinos can’t remember a time when the show hasn’t been on the air.
Alberto Ciurana, president of programming and content for Univision, lauded the way in which the program as established itself as a veritable family member.
“For so many in the Spanish-speaking community, Don Francisco’s weekly three-hour show defines Saturday evening entertainment, and I want to thank him and the incredible team for their outstanding work,” Ciurana said in a statement released Friday.
Non-Latino Americans are just as aware of the show’s “institution” status — it has been spoofed by Stephen Colbert regularly parodied it on “The Colbert Report.”
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