Competition in the Spanish-language television market is getting caliente.
With broadcasting giant Fox getting in the game this year, there is more TV programming targeting the fast growing and immensely lucrative U.S. Hispanic population than ever. Now, some smaller networks, including Glendale-based Azteca America, are feeling the heat.
Azteca, owned by Mexico City broadcaster TV Azteca S.A. de C.V., is revamping its image to keep up. Late last month, the network, which has been broadcasting in the United States since 2006, unveiled a slick animation that comes on screen between programs along with the new tagline, “Tu Casa,” or “Your House,” to remind viewers of Azteca’s roots in Mexico.
The network has also been rolling out new reality shows, a bold step away from the telenovelas that have long ruled Spanish-language TV’s prime time.
“We continue to believe in our strategy of counterprogramming,” said Martin Breidsprecher, chief executive of Azteca. “I want to offer the viewer something they can’t view somewhere else.”
The network’s new programming includes a reality show competition for aspiring musicians called “Quiero Ser Grupero” (“I Want to Be a Grupero Star,” referring to a regional folk music in Mexico) and “La Isla” (“The Island”), a “Survivor”-like reality elimination show set on a Caribbean island. Azteca produces several shows in Glendale, but the majority of the programming is shot in Mexico. It has some 65 affiliate stations across the country; its local affiliate is KAZA-TV (Channel 54).
One challenge for Azteca is that Hispanic audiences continue to fragment with new options. That was made clear this year, when MundoFox, a Spanish-language broadcast network backed by News Corp., launched across the country in August.
But there’s another challenge for Spanish-language networks: The big four English-language networks in the United States are also now courting Hispanics more heavily. Breidsprecher pointed to the selection of Cuban American actor William Levy to compete on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” earlier this year as an example.
“I welcome competition,” he said. “It makes you rethink what you’re doing.”
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