Azteca Eyes Product-Placement Deals

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Azteca America opened the Latino-television-network-upfront blitz of 2003
Tuesday morning, close to landing its first stand-alone cable affiliates and
willing to let advertisers use product placement and other nontraditional
techniques in a variety of content, including the most traditional of
Spanish-language formats, novelas.

President and CEO Luis Escharte told Multichannel News
affiliate-clearance meetings will be held with Time Warner Cable Wednesday
and with Comcast Corp. before the end of the week.

He suggested that both operators were ready to align with the network, which
has 24 broadcast-station affiliates and, through them, coverage of 60 percent of
all Latino TV households.

By the end of the year, Azteca expects its Latino-household penetration to
reach at least 83 percent.

The Comcast deal would involve markets outside such key Latino population
centers as New York, Los Angeles and Miami, Escharte added.

Executives from Azteca -- which premiered more than one year ago with a
format utilizing the output of its owner, Mexico-based media player TV Azteca --
told the upfront audience it encourages liberal use of product placement on its
format.

Because all of the network's fare originates from one source, placement,
signage and special segments can be handled with a quick turnaround and, in some
cases, can be customized for U.S. play.

For one primetime novela, or limited drama series, Azteca showcased one scene
shot in a McDonald's Corp. restaurant set, with signs and "Big Mac" burgers
prominently displayed and characters slurping down milkshakes with the familiar
golden-arches logo.

Two-thirds of Azteca's format is produced live from Mexico City, including
Cada Mañana, a two-and-a-half-hour midmorning magazine show; La
Academia
(The Academy), the American Idol-type nightly variety
hour, which played a U.S. concert in Los Angeles last year; and various
Hechos newscasts throughout the day.

Special sponsorship and placement options, including screen bugs and other
graphic identifications, will be available throughout the day, officials
said.

Latino TV upfront activities in New York continue Tuesday night with
Telemundo Communications Group Inc.'s Telemundo and mun2Television's combo
presentation, followed by Univision Communications Inc.'s annual Lincoln Center
event Wednesday.

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