MIAMI/NEW YORK Aug 28 (Reuters) - U.S. Spanish language broadcaster Univision is ramping up Fusion, its new English cable news network aimed at younger viewers, hiring hundreds of staffers as it prepares to enter the crowded cable market.
The network, a joint venture with Disney’s ABC, will be in 20 million homes in October, but executives said it aims to be in 60 million homes. Disney, the parent of sports powerhouse ESPN, can flex its distribution muscles to get Fusion wider U.S. distribution, but for now, it will only reach a fraction of CNN’s 99 million homes.
Fusion will become the newest English-language cable news network following the Aug. 20th launch of Al-Jazeera America. Both join a field that includes CNN, Fox News and MSNBC and that is seeing declining viewership in general.
Fusion intends to set itself apart from other news channels by offering comedic takes on the news and other programs for a Hispanic audience that is generally 20 years younger than its cable competition and used to getting its news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
“The focus of Fusion is news through the eyes of a Hispanic in the United States,” Univision CEO Randy Falco told reporters last week.
The news will be beamed from a 150,000-square-foot (13,935 sq. metres) studio in Miami, nicknamed “Newsport,” that will combine the newsrooms of Univision and Fusion.
“This building will be, in many ways, a microcosm of the new American reality...of a multicultural and multilingual society,” said Cesar Conde, president of Univision, at Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony that was attended by Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Fusion expects to hire 200 staff members when it goes live on Oct. 28 and will eventually boost its staff to 350 people, executives told reporters at a recent tour of the Miami headquarters. It has been scouring YouTube for talent.
Greek-American comedian Yannis Pappas, who is popular on YouTube, will be part of the channel’s morning show. The Harvard Sailing Team, a comedy troop based in Los Angeles, will anchor a sports parody show.
Fusion’s chief programming officer, Billy Kimball, a former writer for “The Simpsons,” is expected to “infuse comedy in all of our programming - when it is acceptable,” said Univision’s president of news, Isaac Lee.
The network will offer traditional reporting as well, and will tap Disney’s ABC for breaking news and special events, such as election night coverage, Falco said, and use the network’s worldwide news gathering abilities for foreign news.