ABC-Univision Net Has a Name: Fusion

But Will Bicultural-Focused Channel Find an Audience?
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After playing around with — and copyrighting — several monikers, The Walt Disney Co.’s ABC News and Univision Communications have settled on a name for their joint “news and lifestyle” cable network: Fusion.

Slated to launch in the second half of 2013, Fusion will be based in Univison’s home base of Miami. It will launch to some 20 million subscribers, having reached carriage deals with Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems, Charter Communications, AT&T’s U-verse TV and Google Fiber.

Additional carriage deals are in the works, said a spokesperson for Disney/ABC Television Group, which is handling distribution tasks.

Neither ABC nor Univision have disclosed specific programming for Fusion, but both parties said it will air a mix of news and entertainment with special emphasis on stories that appeal to Hispanics, but without alienating non-Hispanic audiences.

“Our goal is for this young, vibrant, and media hungry audience to come to Fusion to be informed, entertained and empowered,” ABC News president Ben Sherwood said in a statement. “It will be fresh, fun and optimistic and of great interest to Latinos and non-Latinos alike.”

Fusion is just the latest cable network seeking to cater to second- and third-generation Hispanics, and elusive yet potentially influential group and the fastest-growing piece of the Hispanic demo.

More than 60% of U.S. Latinos were born stateside, according to the 2010 Census. And the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that most third-generation Hispanics aren’t fluent in spoken or written Spanish; about 70% of that category describes themselves as English-dominant.

But reaching out to Latino millenials, hardly a monolithic group, is sure to present a challenge.

“When you go outside Spanish-language, the Hispanic audience becomes highly fragmented,” said David Chitel, CEO of New York City-based NGL Media, a distributor and producer of in-culture Latino video content across digital media. “There is always going to be a place for a network that speaks to someone’s cultural identity. It’s just going to come down to the content. Does the content really resonate with the audience?”

So far, says Univision News President Isaac Lee, millenials seem to like what they’ve seen online, on  the ABC News/Univision joint website the partners launched last year. At that site, visitors can find daily news stories and a series of short-form documentaries.

Lee also cites Univision News’ presence in social media platforms as an early sign of its success. Univision News (the English-language spinoff of Univisión Noticias) attracts almost 71,000 followers on Twitter. By comparison, FoxNewsLatino has 26,400 followers; NBCLatino, 10,300, and Huffington Post Latino Voices, 18,900.

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