...television, at its best, is magnificent. - Steve Jobs
Last month, mighty Univision teamed up with ABC to launch a $285 million, 24-hour cable television network called Fusion. Before the launch the network was billed as a channel for millennial Hispanics and our hipster BFFs.
To this end, Fusion hired a stable of on-air and behind-the-scenes Latino talent, the first-ever African to host a primetime show on American TV and Jorge Ramos, the greatest Latino newsman on either American continent to be the much-needed, English-language nightly news watchdog for immigrants in this country.
My initial reaction: I like it. A lot.
Fusion is less for Hispanic millennials than it is for all millennials. But Fusion is definitely for Hispanic millennials, too. Fusion's careful balance between ABC and Univision tilts toward Univision on The Morning Show. This is important, as there is nothing more informative, uplifting, and absurd than the morning shows on Univision. I would watch The Morning Show live everyday, but I can't. My cable provider doesn't yet carry Fusion.
The biggest problems I have with Fusion have to do with distribution. I'm one of those people who has the TV on from the moment I walk in the door until the moment I leave for work in the morning. I sleep with the TV on. I eat with the TV on. I live with the TV on. I love television, which, at its best, is magnificent.
Online television, at its best, is playlisted. Because my cable provider doesn't yet carry Fusion, I'm stuck watching Fusion online. Fusion's website, which is otherwise stellar, doesn't allow video playlisting. This is a problem for me when I'm relaxing in the evening or getting ready in the morning... pretty much any time I don't want to have to click on a new video every few minutes when a segment of DNA or Open Source TV concludes and I want to watch another. I want the next video to begin automatically.
Advertising between video segments is fine. The websites of FOX News, VICE, and Huffington Post Live all advertise between segments that play continuously via their respective video players. Fusion should reconfigure its online video player to allow playlisting. Doing this will make me a more-frequent viewer of Fusion's magnificent video content.
While we're on the subject of playlisting, it would be great if Univision and Fusion collaborated on a single video feed of every show that Jorge Ramos does in a given day, English and Spanish. The man is a fully-bilingual genius. Every day Jorge Ramos works with Fusion is a gift to everyone at the network. Baby Boomers remember Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite as elegant, principled, era-defining journalists who, when cornered, would take a moral stand on live TV in primetime. If he stays with Fusion, millennials will remember Jorge Ramos the same way.
Watch AMERICA with Jorge Ramos and you'll see what I mean.
AN ACTIVIST NETWORK
A big reason why Fusion succeeds is because it arrives in an English-language vacuum of cable news coverage of the mass deportations of Latino immigrants in the United States. Immigration is news on Fusion. I check fusion.net often. Immigration is usually on the homepage. Fusion should remain a mainstream English-language beacon of advocacy for a comprehensive immigration reform in Washington that is meaningful for our undocumented friends and neighbors living in fear of deportation.
Immigration is not the only valuable vein of advocacy that is important for Fusion to engage with early and often. Soccer is a booming market in the U.S., especially among Hispanic millennials and our hipster BFFs. If Fusion takes next year's World Cup in Brazil seriously, the network will score big in their target demographic. Wielding Fusion's industry-leading production capabilities toward fun, granular coverage of the U.S. and Latin American teams can make Fusion the go-to English-language network for soccer in the Americas. That would fill another huge vacuum in stateside English-language media coverage... this one with tremendous potential for significant, cross-market global advertising revenue.
There's a lot more I could say about Fusion. For now I'll keep the rest of my commentary to Twitter. Meanwhile, I need to end here with two big shoutouts to some awesome folks at Fusion.
- My first shoutout is to Derrick Ashong and his team at DNAtv for featuring a tweet on their opening show from a Latino news Twitter account I help administer. That made my day. Derrick's arrival in primetime is historic. His country just qualified for the World Cup. His background at Al Jazeera's The Stream makes him the most-experienced on-air talent at Fusion in crowd-sourced global news. So far DNAtv is my favorite show on Fusion.
- My second shout out is to Mariana Atencio from Fusion's Morning Show. Last week I wrote a list of The Top Young Latinos in American Newsrooms. It ended, "Surely this list is not all-inclusive. Who is missing? Let me know in the comments or tweet them at @vato." After the post went live, I was bombarded on Twitter, by email, and text by folks recommending Top Young Latinos in American Newsrooms whom I had overlooked. No young Latino talent was recommended to me more than Mariana Atencio. Having watched the first episode of the Morning Show, I can see why. She's a star, perhaps the most-talented bilingual millennial on American television.
Do you have any thoughts to share on Fusion? Leave them in the comments or tweet them at @vato on Twitter.