Azteca America Wraps Upfront Sales

Spanish-language network Azteca America has wrapped its upfront selling season for commitments running until next fall, increasing volume by 33% to the $40 to $50 million range. The network said it added 17 new national advertisers, including KFC, Microsoft, Sprint, Verizon and Kraft.

The deals, which include product placement and digital opportunities, come as Azteca’s ratings in the 18-to-49 demo have dipped an estimated 17% this fall.

“That’s what makes the commitment from our clients that much more special to us … they know that we’re trying and we’ll fix that,” said Bob Turner, sales chief at the network.

The network is planning a road show to discuss new programming with advertisers, an outgrowth of focus groups in Los Angeles and four other major markets.

The 10-year-old Azteca reaches about 70% of U.S. Hispanic homes and has made efforts recently to expand that momentum to full-power stations in Dallas, Houston and San Francisco. It is also exploring opportunities in New York. 

It received an endorsement this fall when E.W. Scripps purchased several major-market broadcast affiliates from McGraw-Hill. The deal also included five Azteca affiliates -- among them affiliates in San Diego and Denver. Although they are all low power, Scripps CEO Rich Boehne stated that the deal marked “a terrific opportunity to enter some of America’s most dynamic media markets and tap into the growing Spanish-language marketplace.”

Advertisers looking for leverage against market leaders Univision and Telemundo, in addition to added opportunities to reach the growing Hispanic market, offer Azteca a chance to build its client base further. “They’re all rooting for us,” Turner said.

As competitors rely on novelas in prime time, Azteca attempts a counter-programming strategy, although it trails Univision and Telemundo by huge margins. It does turn to novelas, a staple of Spanish-language programming, in other dayparts. 

Its programming includes imports from Mexico, home of its parent TV Azteca, and some originals. More competition is coming as Univision launches several cable channels, and Telemundo spends more on programming under new owner Comcast.

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