For 14 years from 2005, Michael Schwimmer served as CEO of what eventually became known as Fuse Media, the entity that on April 23 initiated a voluntary, pre-packaged Chapter 11 financial restructuring.
He won’t be around to see Fuse’s next chapter: it’s hopeful emergence from debtor-in-possession status.
That’s because he’s returned to the company he departed to take on the top leadership role at Fuse.
Schwimmer is heading back at DISH, where he served as EVP of Programming and Marketing from 1996-2005.
As of an undetermined date in June, he’ll take on the role of EVP of International, Business Development and Strategy for DISH.
Schwimmer’s main task will be to grow both DISH TV and Sling TV in the U.S. multicultural community.
That will not be an easy task.
On July 1, 2018, DISH Network dropped Univision from its lineup.
Then, things got ugly, leading the DBS provider to axe all of Univision Communications’s networks, including Univision Deportes Network.
On March 26, 2019, in a surprise announcement, a long-term agreement for carriage of Univision networks and stations on DishLATINO and DISH had been reached.
That said, the damage was done: Univision, which practically built DishLATINO, saw many of its consumers disconnected from its flagship network, in addition to UniMás and cable networks including the soon-to-be rebranded TUDN sports offering and Galavisión. This contributed to disappointing quarterly earnings reports.
At the same time, the loss of viewers punctured DISH Network. Subscriber losses were seen.
Repairing the damage will now be up to Schwimmer, who reports directly to DISH EVP/Programming and Sling TV Group President Warren Schlichting — a central figure in the ugly battle between DISH and Univision.
There may be no better candidate for the task than Schwimmer. “Michael is one of the key architects of what has become the DISH TV and Sling TV international businesses, and everything we are doing today traces directly back to his early work at DISH delivering international content,” Schlichting said. “His track record of creativity and innovation in our industry will be a tremendous asset for DISH as we seek growth in our international offerings.”
Schwimmer first joined DISH Network as a member of its legal team. He was tapped to lead the company’s Marketing and Programming organization and played a key role in launching the DISH International and DishLATINO brands.
He left DISH in 2005 to lead SiTV, which attempted to superserve English-preferred Hispanic audiences with culturally relevant content. The cable network in the mid-2010s rebranded under the name NUVOtv. This offering ceased operations on Sept. 30, 2015, merging with Fuse.
The merger was the result of the 2014 acquisition of the Fuse Media enterprise from the Madison Square Garden Company.
The purchase didn’t turn out so great. On April 8, 2019, Fuse announced that Schwimmer had tendered his resignation, effective April 12. Eleven days later, rumors became reality as Fuse Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Commenting on his return to DISH, Schwimmer said, “My career has been devoted to helping build new businesses that champion great content for diverse audiences. I look forward to making a contribution to help grow the already strong position of the DISH brands as the destinations for the best multicultural content available and create new opportunities for the Sling platform.”