The coming 2014 World Cup lasts more than a month, and so too will a primetime schedule change on emerging cable outlet Fusion that aims to make coverage of the event and the country hosting it an integral element of the network’s identity.
Fusion’s parents, Walt Disney and Univision, both own broadcast rights to the soccer bacchanal. That gives Fusion the helping hand it needs to take a ringside seat at the tournament, which will be broadcast from Brazil between June 12 and July 13. As such, the network will take its weekly “Soccer Gods” program, typically broadcast at 10 p.m. eastern on Mondays, and make it a regular part of its primetime lineup seven nights a week while the World Cup is in play.
“What will distinguish our coverage in particular is the voice that we bring, and our ability to focus on more than just what’s happening on the field,” explained Mark Lima, Fusion’s vice president of news. Brazilian culture, potential World Cup protests, and the state of stadium construction are all worthy of coverage, he said, and Fusion will have reporters on the ground to cover developments.
So important is the event to Fusion’s core viewer – millennials and young people of Latino descent – that the network will pre-empt its regular 10 p.m. programming on 33 nights and turn its air over to Nando Vila and Simon Carr, the regular “Soccer Gods” hosts. The network is also unveiling a mobile-responsive microsite creates and curates content from the social web , including reactions from fans and key influencers watching from inside the stadiums, parties in Brazil and elsewhere.
“We take a much more fan-centric view,” explained Vila. “We are definitely going to emphasize more of the funny stuff that goes on around the World Cup: what the players do, the guys that go on social, stories that come out from the training camps, and things like that.”
But the World Cup isn’t all about the game. “We are expecting serious news incidents to break,” said Carr. “There are going to be public safety concerns. Getting around the cities is going to be a nightmare. Getting around the country is going to be tough.” The pair anticipates offering a report “that is fairly comprehensive and not just about soccer, but Brazil.”
Fusion’s Jorge Ramos and Leon Krauze, both part of the network’s primetime lineup, will contribute to Fusion’s coverage throughout the games. Mariana van Zeller, an investigative correspondent, will examine topics ranging from the drug wars happening in the Amazon to whether spending on the World Cup is excessive. Brazilian TV journalist Pedro Andrade will co-host “Fusion Live” in the 8 p.m. hour and offer dispatches about the country’s people and culture.
For Fusion, the World Cup coverage gives the network, which launched last fall, an opportunity to grab World Cup fans and perhaps convert them to watch other parts of its programming day. Fusion has presented a non-traditional blend of news coverage tailored for a particular audience along with regular does of satire, which has included a talking hot dog offering commentary on the most recent State of the Union.