Manuel Abud doesn't mind using the "M" word. He does it a lot, actually. The "M" word in this case is for Mexicans.
"We target them because it's good business," said the president and CEO of Azteca America at the network's upfront presentation Monday night.
The event at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square came a day before the two other dominant U.S. Hispanic networks — Univision and Telemundo — throw their annual party for advertisers.
Mexicans, or those of Mexican descent, make up 67 percent of Hispanics in the U.S., so it's no wonder Abud uses the "M" word in abundance. He also delivered good news to clients: "I'm thrilled to say that for the first time in 7 years, we have substantial ratings growth." The network is up 33 percent in the adults 18-49 demo in prime time. Azteca also has a hit on its hands with Friday Night Futbol, which features Mexican League soccer matches. It's up 48 percent in that demographic.
Most of Azteca's shows are produced in Mexico by the network's parent company TV Azteca, which is the second-largest producer of Hispanic programming in the world, behind Televisa, which has a programming partnership with Univision.
The new slate of Azteca shows includes a series at 7pm that is a combination dance-variety-song-game show rolled into a program called La Hora Ganadora (The Winning Hour). Three new telenovelas air at 8pm, "all about amor," said vp of programming Margarita Black. The network has also imported a program, Kaçak, from Turkey, and trotted out its star, Gürkan Uygun, who was making his first trip to Times Square. "I even met some celebrities on my way in: Elmo, Batman, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," he joked.
With initiatives like the Hispanic Audience Platform, investment in its station group, and an ambitious slate of new programs, Azteca aims to make its mark on the socially engaged and fast growing Hispanic audience in the U.S. And it will start with letter "M."