By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The biggest novela (prime-time soap opera) of 2012 in Brazil, Avenida Brasil, brought the country to a standstill on Friday night, as half the country tuned in to watch the grand finale of the most successful whodunit in recent times. Bars and restaurants in Rio seized on the opportunity to lure in customers with special events and promotions organized to coincide with the dramatic finale episode.
Even President Dilma Rousseff – a fan of the series – was reported to have cleared her schedule and, some speculated that aware she would be unable to compete with the drama, pulled out of a local election rally in São Paulo.
As up to seventy percent of TV audiences have been tuning into the soap since it started in March, and Brazil’s national power grid had braced itself for a big surge in demand as the show kicked off.
Avenida Brasil audience numbers have even eclipsed viewing figures for football’s major Brasileirão championship.
Viewers of the soap were anxious to find out the answer to the biggest question of the series – “Who killed Max?” – and see what would become of stepmother Carminha, the series villain played by Adriana Esteves.
In the end, Carminha admits to the killing, but fans online were not convinced: many said she was probably protecting someone, opening up the opportunity for a second season.
Social media sites were awash with comments about the show, with hashtag #OiOiOiFinal topping the worldwide trend on Twitter during and long after transmission.
Commentators have pointed out that Globo, the channel behind Avenida Brasil and many other of the country’s soaps, had shrewdly shifted its focus audience and portrayal of everyday Brazilian life to something that more closely resembles Brazil’s ever-increasing “new middle class” who are proud of their origins, particularly with the rags-to-riches storyline with football player Tufão, played by Murilo Benício.
The series has been extremely profitable for Globo in terms of advertising – with a national 30-second slot reportedly costing R$530,000 (US$261,000), earning the channel R$1 billion ($500 million) over the seven months it was running.
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