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Media’s reaction to Fusion, the new TV channel aimed towards young Latinos

Media buzz around new Univision-ABC TV channel targeting Hispanic millennials is loud and solid. What are they saying?


What: With an exclusive interview with President Obama, yesterday took place the much anticipated launch of the new Univision-ABC English-language TV channel aimed at young Hispanics, dubbed Fusion.
Why is it important: Fusion attempts to meet younger viewers’ rapidly-changing media consumption habits. Although initially aimed towards second and third-generation Latinos (a segment advertisers are increasingly interested in reaching), this channel, run by the leader in Latin media, will ultimately address a much wider audience, that is, adults under 35 years of age, of all ethnic backgrounds. The buzz generated by this new venture is loud and solid.

Fusion kicked off Monday, October 28, at 6:57 p.m. EST, with a special edition of “America with Jorge Ramos”, featuring an interview with President Barack Obama conducted by ABC News correspondent Jim Avila. This new TV channel will launch initially with a limited distribution, as it will be available in only about 20 million homes (1/5 of the U.S. households with paid TV subscriptions).

According to L.A. Times, Cablevision, Charter Communications and Cox Communications are the cable companies that will carry the new channel –plus, At&T U-Verse, Verizon FiOS and Google Fiber are also involved. ABC will be in charge of distribution, while Univision will be responsible for programming. Both companies have been planning the new channel for more than two years. Fusion’s website is integrated in the Yahoo-ABC News Network.

Although Fusion targets young Hispanics, it will not have a traditional Latino-feel because these younger generations are American and don’t want to be treated as if they were not (“They don’t want to be ghettoized“, says Fusion’s CEO Isaac Lee), that’s why its contents will be in English.

LOS ANGELES TIMESEnglish-language cable TV channel Fusion is designed to appeal to young U.S.-born Latinos who primarily speak English. The initiative, a 50-50 joint venture with Disney/ABC Television, hopes to engage members of the millennial generation, those roughly between the ages of 18 and 34. Colombian-born Isaac Lee (42), Fusion’s recently appointed CEO, said that, since twenty percent of millennials are Latino, while researching the target audience for the new venture they soon saw that the opportunity was not just with Hispanics, but also with millennials. Lee also said that the channel will not try to cover breaking news because most younger viewers learn about big events through Twitter and elsewhere on the Internet.

–Isaac Lee, president of Univision News and newly-named chief executive officer of Fusion


ADAGEFew parts of the media business are growing as quickly as Hispanic media. However, as competitors add their own new channels variously focused on Hispanics, young people and news, where will Fusion fit? The motivation to the network is clear: Hispanic media spending is growing faster than the general market, increasing 11% to $7.9 billion in 2012. TV accounts for most of that spending, at $5.8 billion, but just $246 million goes to Hispanic cable TV networks. Fusion seeks to change that ratio by targeting millennial Hispanics with hard news, news satire, sports and commentary in English. Marc Morse, senior VP-national broadcast at media agency RJ Palmer, said that although Hispanic viewers can be found in other places, marketers who dedicate time and money on programming specifically targeting the Hispanic market have a greater recall.

–Catherine Sullivan, senior VP-ABC News Sales


REUTERSThe target demographic for the new English-language channel is several decades younger than the audiences for CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, which pull in viewers with a median age of 60 or higher, according to media research company Nielsen. The new channel will also test the market for TV news developed for Hispanics, the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, but delivered in English rather than Spanish. Some of its programming will feature a heavy dose of humor, a bid for viewers who keep up with current events through shows like “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” Fusion will turn to ABC reporters for news from around the world, and for special events such as election night coverage. The Disney team will handle ad sales and distribution for Fusion, bringing the ability to sell it to cable operators in a package with its popular sports channel, ESPN.

Fusion is hoping to cash in on advertisers’ awareness of the growing purchasing power of Hispanics, estimated to rise to $1.5 trillion by 2015 from $1 trillion in 2010, according to a 2012 study by Nielsen. Advertisers may still take some persuading to break with a long-held tradition of reaching Hispanics in Spanish.

–Arturo Villar, publisher of Hispanic Market Weekly


MIAMI HERALDFusion offers a look at the challenges in pursuing Hispanic consumers, perhaps the hottest target in marketing today. The network scrapped the initial Latin identity after focus groups showed young Hispanics were put off by the idea of a television channel centered on their ethnicity, said Isaac Lee, head of news at Univision and CEO of Fusion. Univision’s anchor Jorge Ramos (55) was an obvious choice for Univision’s original concept, but the rest of the line-up captures Fusion’s unconventional approach to news and talk: an animated satire show, comedians taking on sports, a puppet talk show, and an evening program on sex and politics.

Fusion’s broader demographic makes for complicated marketing, since Lee and others say young Hispanics remain their primary target. “Imagine if you are doing archery,” Lee said. “The bull’s-eye, the red dot, is still an Hispanic. But the whole target is not just the red dot.”

–Isaac Lee, CEO, Fusion


FRANCE 24 (AFP)Fusion touts itself as a channel aimed at “a young, diverse and inclusive America” and said it would offer “a unique mix of smart and irreverent original reporting, lifestyle and comedic content.” Fusion’s CEO Isaac Lee said that over 80 percent of millennials sleep with their phones next to their beds every night because they don’t want to miss a beat, so the new channel will try to respond to their media consumption needs.

–Isaac Lee, CEO, Fusion


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