ABC and Univision's love child bursts to life
This Thursday, Oct. 18 2013 photo shows the count-down clock until the launch of the Fusion network at its Miami studio. The long-awaited, sorta Hispanic love child of ABC and Univision networks will be birthed Oct. 28. Fusion, as it’s called, is one of the most experimental television ventures in recent history. The network’s mix of news, commentary, sports and irreverence is aimed at 16 to 30-year-olds, a demographic for which cultural fusion is the norm and digital media is king.(AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
MIAMI (AP) — The long-awaited DNA exchange between ABC and Univision emerges from the test tube this month, aiming to stretch the limits of traditional network programming. The English-language television network, called Fusion, will target millennial Hispanics and their BFFs as it attempts to capitalize on a generation for which cultural fusion is the norm and digital media is king.
The network will provide something of a grab bag: a mix of hard news, commentary, sports and irreverence aimed at 16- to 30-year-olds. Sure, there will be nightly news programs, but also an animated puppet news and entertainment show by David Javerbaum, former head writer of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." Think Comedy Central, the hipster online magazine Vice.com, ABC and Univision, all in one.
"Not everyone will get it; and that's sort of the point," Univision News President and now Fusion CEO Isaac Lee wrote in a memo to staff earlier this month.
In this Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 photo Alicia Menendez, right, host of the "Alicia Menendez Tonight" show on Fusion, an English-language television network targeting millennial Hispanics, poses with her production team at the network's studio in Doral, Fla. Menedez describes her new Fusion show as a mix of sex, money and politics. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
To "get" what Fusion is attempting, it helps to tour its home and meet the players:
The green and blue mood-lighting of the warehouse-turned-news hub known as Newsport suggests Miami Beach club over newsroom. Like millennials who can't afford to move out on their own, Fusion shares the cavernous space with Spanish-language parent Univision News. Senior staff members gather for brainstorming sessions in brightly painted and glass-walled rooms overlooking the newsroom.
On a recent afternoon, Lee strode across the floor like the head of a Silicon Valley startup, sketching flow charts of Fusion's evolution. As he talked, one millennial staffer wrestled a ping pong ball from the mouth of Chocolate, Lee's brown Labrador. Others chimed in on the essence of the network that goes live Oct. 28.
As befits a project geared to a generation used to downloading the latest mobile update, Fusion has been beta testing in plain view. In 2011, Lee brought together a group of recent journalism school graduates to work on an English-language Tumblr for Univision. The young journalists created original news, curated stories and produced short documentaries.