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Upfronts 2017: Azteca Builds 'The Wall'

New York -- Azteca America, the broadcast network and Spanish-language programmer, dug into the headlines for its first U.S.-based original series. It's called El Muro, or The Wall. Set along the Arizona-Mexico border, the drama will break up into 10 blocks of five episodes around a central narrative -- "a love story between Adriana, an undocumented immigrant, and Calixto, the immigration officer in charge of her deportation." Network CEO Manuel Abud said the show, in early production and slated to premiere in 2018, would entertain and "tap into issues that are of extreme interest to our audience."

At an upfront event for advertisers at the Times Center, Azteca America (owned by Mexican broadcaster TV Azteca) executives said its mix of entertainment shows and events like the Miss Universe pageant, back for a third year in a row and with new "Camino a la Corona" backstage buildup programming, led to sizable gains in total viewers (33%), adults 18-49 (28%) and adults 18-34 (29%) in primetime for 2015-16, citing Nielsen.

Another new primetime original is El Manicomio (Mental Hospital), a thriller series about a reporter who goes undercover in a psychiatric hospital. The network is adding boxing (Knockout, a U.S.-produced reality series) and mixed martial arts in the form of Combate Americas Azteca fare. A deal for more than 1,000 hours of Turkish drama series from KANAL D adds to a stockpile of action fare.

On the sales and digital fronts, Azteca America said it had new digital TV slash programmatic pacts, with Videology for programmatic buys and with Zype to spread its original news and entertainment content on OTT platforms including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Roku.

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.