Fuse Lights a Fire With Multiplatform Deals


Music channel Fuse, continuing to build its linear base while expanding its multiplatform presence, has inked a carriage extension with Comcast Corp. and struck an accord with MobiTV Inc.

Through recent launches with Comcast and other operators, Fuse will increase its penetration by some 7 million in 2005 and expects to finish the year in some 44 million homes, according to senior vice president of distribution Joe Glennon.

The agreement also calls for the expansion of Fuse On Demand into Comcast markets where the service is not already available.

The Rainbow Media Holdings LLC unit also bolstered its presence in the advanced-services arena via its pact with MobiTV Inc., the mobile purveyor of video and radio services.

Lisa Choi Owens, vice president of business development, said Fuse content will play well in the wireless-video world.

“Fuse’s audience of young viewers are multitaskers, who when watching TV also use their PCs, or [send instant messages to] their friends. Cell phones are also very much part of their world,” Choi Owens said. “Working with MobiTV is a natural extension of the Fuse brand.

“FuseMobile is a different experience on a different platform. It’s not just shortened versions of shows,” she added.

To that end, FuseMobile has and will develop interviews, behind-the-scenes features and outtakes, ranging from one to 10 minutes in length. “That’s the sweet spot for mobile users,” she said.

The MobiTV deal follows last month’s agreement with Marketgraph BV for the U.S. rights to the company’s short-message services technology, which overlays two-way interactivity for cell-phone text messaging to traditional TV formats.

Fuse began integrating those capabilities against the shows Perfect Pair, Dumped and Heavy Texting, which premiered Oct. 17. In these relationship-based shows, viewers can watch videos and deploy their mobile phones to enter information about themselves and their partners to receive personalized return messages, which may also appear on-screen.

“In Europe, the text messaging conversion rate is much higher than in the U.S. Converting passive to active viewers has been tremendous for us so far. It’s been on par with European activity,” said Choi Owens, without elaborating.

Fuse has been the subject of acquisition speculation by the Weinstein Co., the studio run by former Miramax Films executives Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who split from Miramax parent The Walt Disney Co. earlier this year.