This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Comcast. The opinions and text are all mine. The Difference Between Telenovelas & Soap Operas.

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For as far back as I can remember, I loved Erica Kane, the well-known fictional character from All My Children, played by Susan Lucci, for over forty years.  I was just a little girl when I started watching the show, and I never gave it up, entirely. When it finally ended in 2013, I was sad. It wasn’t just because I wanted to keep watching. Truthfully, there were times in my life I stopped watching for years, but I always went back to checking in on the familiar characters I’d grown up with. I also watched One Life to Live, and General Hospital. Only General Hospital remains. While I don’t watch it often, I try to do a little binge watching of key story lines, about once per year. American soap operas were a part of my life, my entire life. If you didn’t know me growing up, you probably don’t know this about me.

I was an adult before I learned how to speak Spanish fluently, so I had not watched telenovelas during my childhood. I’d heard of them long before I began watching them, but I thought of them as the Spanish version of the soap operas I’d grown up with. I was wrong. While I did get some quality time with my mother, watching our favorite shows, sharing guesses about what would happen on Monday, following the traditional Friday cliffhangers, it was different. Soap operas didn’t bring entire families together every evening. Telenovelas did. Some still do. In fact, there are many Spanish language programs that bring families together, every day. Family is a very important part of Latino/Hispanic culture, so it makes sense that there are so many programs that cater to entire families, from the youngest child in the family to grandma and grandpa. There is something special about seeing so many generations enjoying the same show, together! English based programs have started a trend of bringing back shows and targeting whole-family audiences, as well. Fuller House was a great come-back that I really enjoyed watching with my own children. I have a variety of English and Spanish must-see shows. I love that XFINITY X1 gives families the option to choose, and go back-and-forth between English and Spanish programming.

Now XFINITY brings you FreePass Latino.  It’s a two-week free preview of the best Spanish and English language content On-Demand!  There is also lots of English content as well.  We all like to switch between the two, so the choice is yours.  The free preview is from September 26th to October 9th. Be sure to tune in and tell your friends! Want to know more about XFINITY X1, learn everything you need to know, HERE! Stay in-the-know by liking the check out the XFINITY Latino Facebook Page!

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Free Pass telenovelas Xfinity iamAliciaGI absolutely have to watch the news in both English & Spanish. Even when the same story is being shared, the content and even perspectives, often vary.

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Xfinity X1 Spanish Programming telenovelas

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I really hope you’ll take advantage of this great opportunity! You might even consider switching over to Spanish programming, now! Also, Comcast’s X1 platform is available for free to anyone who has a Double or Triple Play from Comcast. Who can live without El Chavo or Cantinflas?  And, I know that more than a few  people were glued to El Señor de los Cielos. There’s no reason to choose between English or Spanish programming, when you can have BOTH!

Plus, you’ll get your favorite telenovelas and soap operas! Okay, so how about those differences I started telling you about? Let’s see…


Telenovelas, translated in a more literal sense, means TV novels. A novel is a story, right? When you think of a novel, you most likely think of a book. Good. Think of it like that. I’m not entirely sure why we’ve compared Latin American telenovelas to soap operas in such a parallel way, but that method leads to a lot being lost in translation.

Soap Operas, according to wikipedia, are “a serial drama on television or radio which examines the lives of many characters, usually focusing on emotional relationships to the point of melodrama. The term soap opera originated from such dramas being typically sponsored by soap manufacturers in the past.

I’ve always been fascinated by language, and how various terms and phrases hold-still in time!


Telenovelas also have many characters, often focusing on emotional relationships to the point of melodrama. However, there are also many that are based on real stories, real people, and non-drama genres. There are certainly plot twists in a drama-centered telenovela, but there are limits due to their difference in duration. A telenovela will have a conclusion, at some point.

Soap Operas are based on fictional characters and are always dramas. The plot twists can go on indefinitely. It’s not uncommon for characters to be killed off, then return years later, alive-and-well. This same scenario can happen with the same character, several times over many years, allowing actors to leave and return to their previous role. This is possible because the writing for soap operas is done continuously over the years, again due to the differences in duration.


Telenovelas may be a part of a series, for example, La Viuda Negra and La Viuda Negra II. However, they end. Many of them end after the initial story is told, without any continuation. For the most part, a telenovela will be over within 1-3 years, even with continuations. If a telenovela continues, there is almost always a gap between each part. Think of the continuations as seasons. The duration of a telenovela doesn’t indicate the level of success.

Soap Operas can go on for decades. The duration of a soap opera gives a very accurate picture of it’s success.


Telenovela  often have already famous entertainers, such as singers and known names in entertainment industry. They often are highly regarded as actors, especially those who play roles on successful telenovelas that air during prime-time.

Soap operas often have actors who are primarily ‘soap stars,’ a somewhat separate segment of the entertainment industry, and are not as frequently regarded as ‘hollywood stars.’ That’s not always the case, but it’s closer to the trend. That’s not to say that soap opera actors are not highly regarded and respected. They are, but most often, it’s within their niche, and there is a lower transition of daytime stars to the big screen. However, some really big names have come from soap operas, too! Ricky Martin, Demi Moore, Laurence Fishburne, and Tommy Lee Jones all played roles in popular soap operas. 


Telenovelas have a wide variety of audiences, and are created for specific markets. There are telenovelas for children, teens, adults, and families. They air during the day, afternoons, and in the evenings, during prime-time.

Soap operas are traditionally aired during the daytime. Since they were created so many years ago, the primary market has remained women who are home during the day. There has been the occasional exception, such as General Hospital: Night Shift, which was the second spin-off show from General Hospital, and aired at 11:00 p.m. With increased options for accessing programs, with features such as On Demand, live-program-streaming, etc., the market has expanded, slightly. Still, soap operas remain a primarily daytime market.

Telenovelas and soap operas are not the same thing. Don’t ask me to pick a favorite, because luckily, I don’t have to choose! One of the first telenovelas I was ever really into was Amigas y Rivales. Do you remember that one? 

What is your all-time favorite telenovela or soap operas?

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By: Alicia Gonzalez