×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Univision Creates Fusion Media Group as Disney Exits Cable Partnership

Disney has exited its partnership with Univision on the Fusion cable and digital venture after a rocky three years in which the channel has changed course more than once.

Details of the transaction were not disclosed. It’s believed that a small amount of money changed hands for Univision to acquire Disney’s 50% stake in the venture. But Disney’s exit frees the Mouse from obligations to fund the channel that has racked up well over $60 million in losses since 2013.

With the restructuring, Univision has created the Fusion Media Group to house Fusion as well as its Univision Digital and Univision Music divisions, its interest in the El Rey Network and its stakes in a motley collection of digital media outlets including the Root, the Onion, A.V. Club, Clickhole, Starwipe and Flama. Univision is focused on assembling a patchwork quilt of content assets that draw younger audiences, to diversify its operations that are rooted in its linear TV channels, Univision and UniMas.

“The face of America is changing and we are focused on serving a new majority whose influence is rapidly growing — affecting everything from politics and the economy to our culture. Through impactful journalism and smart commentary, our portfolio will serve a rising generation with meaningful content that reflects their values and passions. We don’t just understand the audience, we are the audience,” said Isaac Lee, chief news and digital officer for Univision.

Lee and Disney/ABC TV Group president Ben Sherwood were the architects who birthed Fusion as a news-focused network aimed at English-speaking Hispanic millennials. The deal came together in 2012, when Sherwood was president of ABC News. The partnership called for Univision to handle creative and programming operations while Disney led sales and distribution. Fusion launched its digital platform in late 2012 followed by the cable channel in October 2013.

In short order, the TV channel shifted gears away from news into and emphasis on lifestyle and comedy programming. But last September, Fusion announced another pivot to in-depth and investigative reporting, documentaries and political coverage. The TV channel has struggled to draw an audience, which means renewing its initial carriage agreements will be tough at a time when MVPDs are hammering down on fees for smaller niche outlets. The shifts in programming strategy were frustrating to Disney and spurred the discussions that led to the Mouse’s format exit of the venture.

Univision disclosed details of Fusion’s financial performance in January as it filed a registration statement for an IPO that has since been delayed. In 2013, Fusion had losses of $27.4 million which were split by Univison and Disney. In 2014 the total loss climbed to $35 million,on revenue of $28.1 million and operating expenses of $63.4 million. Red ink for startup cable channels is not unusual, but the uncertainty roiling the TV market at present makes the prospect of investing tens of millions of dollars more in the fledgling effort unattractive, even for a media behemoth such as Disney.

Univision has emphasized Fusion’s success on the digital side. The website has logged 10 million uniques a month, up 305% from a year-ago, with a total reach of 27 million users per month. The Fusion brand also looks to get a boost from a deal with HBO for a new series, “Outpost,” about offbeat aspects of culture in Latin America.

“Fully integrating Fusion into our portfolio closely aligns with our desire to engage with our growing audience wherever they are, whenever they want and in their language of preference,” said Univision president-CEO Randy Falco. Fusion Media Group “is extremely well positioned to reach this young, diverse audience at scale and with passion, irreverence and authenticity.”

 

More TV

  • BBC Orders Oscar Wilde Documentary with

    BBC Orders Oscar Wilde Documentary With Stephen Fry, Freddie Fox

    A new documentary about Oscar Wilde will tell the celebrated writer’s story with a star cast recreating excerpts from his greatest works, including “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Freddie Fox, Claire Skinner, Anna Chancellor and James Fleet will all perform in the 80-minute show, “The Importance of Being Oscar,” which [...]

  • FOSSE VERDON -- Pictured: (l-r) Michelle

    TV News Roundup: 'Fosse/Verdon' Premiere Date Set at FX

    In today’s TV news roundup, FX announced the premiere date for “Fosse/Verdon,” and Comedy Central released a new trailer for the final season of “Broad City.”  DATES “Workin’ Moms” is set to premiere Feb. 22 on Netflix. The series, which is currently in its third season, first aired in Canada on CBC Television and is [...]

  • Ilana Glazer Abbi Jacobson

    'Broad City' Stars on Discovering New Aspects of Their Characters

    Throughout the run of “Broad City,” creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer have been conflicted about how much of their on-screen characters (also named Abbi and Ilana) should come directly from their personalities and lives. But when it came to the final season, Jacobson in particular experienced a life-changing shift that she wanted to impart [...]

  • The Goldbergs spinoff

    NBC Orders Comedy Pilot 'Uninsured' From 'Goldbergs' Producers

    NBC has ordered a pilot for the multi-camera comedy “Uninsured.” In the series, young parents Dave and Rebecca end up having to take care of Dave’s parents who have mishandled their finances and need help to pay down a sizable debt. Dan Levy will serve as writer and executive producer, with Doug Robinson and Alison Greenspan [...]

  • Emily Kapnek

    'Splitting Up Together' Creator Emily Kapnek Inks Overall Deal at ABC Studios (EXCLUSIVE)

    Writer and producer Emily Kapnek has signed a three-year overall deal at ABC Studios, Variety has learned exclusively. Kapnek most recently developed the ABC single-cam comedy series “Splitting Up Together,” which is based on the Danish series “Bedre skilt end aldrig.” She was previously under an overall deal at Warner Bros. Television, which produces “Splitting Up [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content