Univision, ABC News’ new Latino Channel: “Fusion”


UnivisionThe highly-anticipated 24-hour news and entertainment now has a name. Fusion now has distribution deals in at least 20 million homes and will premiere late this summer, the companies announced. The first cable channel aimed at second-generation English-speaking Latinos is 50-50 jointly owned by the two companies, and will air in English.

Fusion so far has carriage on Cablevision, Charter, Cox, AT&T U-verse and Google Fiber. The JV was announced 6/12 and will be based in Miami.

The companies say the new network will serve 50 million Hispanics, focusing on the issues “most relevant” for the youngest and fastest-growing demo in the U.S. The network’s coverage will include “the economy, entertainment, music, food, immigration, pop culture, education, politics, health and wellness and more,” according to a statement released jointly by ABC and Univision.

With spending power of over $1 trillion, Hispanics represent 16% of the total population in the U.S., a number that is projected to double to 30% by 2050.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Univision to launch Fusion,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president of the Disney/ABC Television Group. “Our collaboration will bring unmatched reporting capabilities and understanding of issues and entertainment that resonate with the Hispanic community, one of the fastest growing and important demographic communities in the U.S.”

“The launch of Fusion will be a major milestone in Univision’s 50 year history of service to the Hispanic community,” said Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks. “We’re thrilled to partner with ABC News in this exciting new network that will extend Univision’s unequaled coverage of Hispanic issues and lifestyle to English-dominant audiences for the first time.”

ABC News reported that additional distribution deals were in the works and that the existing ones made Fusion available in states with the largest Hispanic populations, including Texas, California, Florida and Illinois.

Fusion will broadcast unscripted series and specials, all with a Latino slant. Isaac Lee, President of Univision News, told the NY Times he’s looking at series like National Geographic’s “Locked Up Abroad” (about tourists who end up in foreign prisons), as the type of documentaries the channel could do. Extensive news coverage in collaboration with ABC News will revolve around the interests of Latinos. Coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, for instance, would focus on potential Latin American candidates to succeed him, Lee said.

The goal at ABC News is that the partnership infuses its editorial choices with a Hispanic perspective. “This will absolutely play a part in our programming choices,” said Ben Sherwood, president of ABC News.

See the NY Times story here

RBR-TVBR observation: While launching Fusion may reap huge rewards tapping an underserved audience, creating a new network for this yet-unproven audience (second-generation Latinos that watch programming in English) could be risky for in scoring both advertisers and ratings. Point being, the overall Hispanic audience already has plenty of choices in both English and Spanish programming and English-speaking Latinos typically watch the same types of programs as non-Hispanics. Bottom line, the programming will have to be good—and will likely have appeal to both Hispanics and non-Hispanics, especially within racially-diverse family units.