Fusion has made a TV development deal with The Root, the number one African-American news and commentary site, Variety has learned exclusively. The Root will make its debut on the cable net in 2016.
With the new partnership, the cabler and the website will co-produce TV content from The Root, in a continued effort for Fusion to reach a young and diverse audience.
While programming is still in the works, insiders say the content will be news-oriented and issue-based, likely resulting in unscripted TV series, documentaries and specials.
“We see this as a tremendous opportunity for Fusion to provide The Root, a brand known for creating gripping digital content, with a platform to reach a new audience on TV,” said Fusion CEO Isaac Lee. “Bringing their editorial voice to our viewers underscores the importance of serving audiences with content that reflects the interests and passions of a young, multicultural generation.”
Boris Gartner, SVP and chief strategy officer at Fusion, emphasizes that the net is already reaching a diverse audience comprised of Hispanic and African-American households, telling Variety, “We want Fusion to be the go-to destination for diverse, multicultural millennials, and so partnering with the number one news site serving African-Americans is a natural move in that direction.”
Covering news, opinion, politics and culture from an African-American perspective, The Root, according to comScore, reaches an average of five million uniques per month.
The Root’s publisher, Donna Byrd, says moving into television is a natural step for the site. “Being able to have The Root’s voice reaching a new audience on TV is a great opportunity for both brands and we hope this is just the beginning,” she tells Variety.
“The Fusion team has produced dynamic content that addresses the issues that matter to America’s diverse population in an informative and entertaining way,” adds Henry Louis Gates Jr., chairman of The Root and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. “I am thrilled to be partnering with Fusion to give The Root an opportunity to broaden its reach beyond a highly engaged digital audience and to provide our community with more access to content that is relevant for their advancement.”
Fusion is co-owned by Disney/ABC and Univision, which acquired The Root in May 2015.