Updated 03:28 PM EDT, Tue, Oct 20, 2020

Longest-Running Variety Show 'Sabado Gigante' Wraps Up in September

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The longest-running variety show on Spanish-language television will wrap up in September.

"Sabado Gigante," which first aired 53 years ago, will end on September 19, according to an official statement from Univision Network announced on Friday, Fox News Latino reported.

"I have no words to thank our viewers for the support, loyalty and enthusiasm with which they have honored us through the years and which have allowed the show to become an unprecedented success in the history of this medium," Don Francisco, whose real name is Mario Kreutzberger, said in a press release, as quoted by Fox News Latino. The 74-year-old TV personality serves as the program's creator and host.

Don Francisco added that "Sabado Gigante" "worked tirelessly" with the "utmost dedication, humility and deep respect" to give the audience exactly what they want to watch, Fox News Latino wrote. Two years ago, it was reported that the TV host will cut back on his duties and two young presenters will be included in the program's lineup.

"Sabado Gigante" premiered on Chile's Channel 13 in 1962, with production moving to Miami, Florida in 1986. The three-hour show gained popularity among the Hispanic families living in the United States, the news outlet wrote. Over the years, "Sabado Gigante" altered its comedy segments and appearance, but has maintained Don Francisco as its core content.

The network also said that Don Francisco will continue working in Univision on new projects such as entertainment specials and campaigns, Fox News Latino added. CNN wrote that the TV host will help in developing new talent for the network and will also carry on as the host of his annual TeletonUSA, a telethon that raises money for disabled children.

On Saturday, Don Francisco told his tear-streaked audience that it's the appropriate time to end "Sabado Gigante," insisting that the program going off the air is not a moment of loss, but rather the opposite.

"This 'Sabado Gigante' allowed all of us who work here to fulfill impossible dreams, and it is the time to end this story with dignity, at the best level, and with the highest ratings," the Chilean-born TV host said, as quoted by a separate report from Fox News Latino. "We are second, first, third nationally every week. Times have changed, we know that, and because of that we need to look for new challenges."

He continued, "To us, I reiterate, this is not a moment of sadness. On the contrary, this is a moment of triumph."

According to CNN, "Sabado Gigante" has gained strong ratings and was recognized as recently as last week as the most-watched network show among the in demand 18-34-year-old audience demographic. The program's success is largely due to Don Francisco, who traveled to New York as a young adult looking to work in his family's tailoring business, but was instead hooked on television upon watching a program in a hotel room in the Big Apple.

Don Francisco had hinted at retiring for years, CNN noted.

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