TV Upfronts

Fuse Media Debuting 2 New FAST Channels in Streaming-Centric Upfront Push

Latino Vibes and Camptastic will premiere later this year

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In its second upfront since becoming a Latino-owned and managed company, Fuse Media is expanding the content it delivers to young, Latinx and multicultural viewers.

Ahead of its 2021 upfront presentation, Fuse Media unveiled a new streaming division favoring cord-cutters. For this year’s upfront pitch, the company is doubling down on its streaming push, with two new FAST (free ad-supported streaming TV) channels coming later this year.

“We’re really taking our programming and our learning, connecting with our audiences and really applying that to the marketplace, we saw tremendous growth from advertiser interest,” Fernando Romero, head of ad sales, told Adweek. “I think our approach, and also our unique POV about celebration, inclusion and empowerment are the things that we continue to champion.”

Two new FAST channels

Later this year, Fuse will debut a pair of new FAST channels: Latino Vibes and Camptastic. Latino Vibes is devoted to English-language Latino entertainment in a mix of studio and independent films, scripted and reality series, documentaries and specials, while Camptastic focuses on camp classics, strange and forgotten gems and “crazy TV.”

“Latino Vibes is really about celebrating the Latino culture and bringing that to the forefront,” said Romero. “On the Camptastic side, built on the success of Fuse Sweat, we want to make sure that we have some fun along the way as well.”

The new FAST channels follow last year’s rollout of AVOD channels Fuse Backstage and Fuse Sweat. “What we’ve learned along the way one, how to program and two, how to get distribution,” said Romero. “These are all learnings that we’ve gotten over the last year, and so that’s what’s really fueling our ability to add two new channels.”

Fuse is seeing increased success in the AVOD space following the launch of the streaming division. Thanks to new distribution deals with Samsung TV Plus and Xumo, all of Fuse’s FAST channels are seeing rapid growth. Fuse Beat is now the most widely distributed Black content channel in the FAST space, and minutes watched across Backstage, Sweat and Beat combined increased nearly four-fold over the past year.

“Our distribution partners are starting to rely on us more because they know our successes of what we’ve seen from those three channels,” said Romero.

Fuse is working to continue to increase distribution of its streaming channels in order to optimize its touchpoints and reach audiences where they are.

“Ideally we become ubiquitous where our consumers and our audiences really consume our content, and then we want to make sure that we strengthen the touchpoints and build fandom with everything that we’re doing,” said Mike Roggero, Fuse CEO and chairman. “Doubling down on how we reach them where they are, and then also strengthening our relationship with our audience. Audiences are viewing the content on a variety of platforms. Linear television is one way of doing it, and streaming is another way of doing it, so it’s important for us to be on both and having a strong presence on both.”

SVOD Fuse+ has seen 57% growth in monthly minutes since October 2021, its first full month of service.

Connecting with multicultural audiences

The majority of Americans under 50 live in a multicultural household, and Fuse is working to connect with these audiences everywhere they consume content.

Part of that effort includes the development of new content, with five new original series set to debut across the company’s streaming and TV channels: We Need to Talk About America, Upcycle Nation, Filmmakers to Watch, Like A Girl and TallBoyz.

Comedy series We Need to Talk About America premieres April 20, and looks at the wild and weird aspects of American culture. Sketch comedy series TallBoyz debuted March 23.

Challenge series Upcycle Nation features an eco-friendly competition where contestants repurpose mystery items to create a new product, and Like A Girl features Denise Jones bringing the fight for gender equality to the screen as part of an interview and competition series.

On Fuse+, Filmmakers to Watch works to elevate young women and minority directors, filmmakers and talent through a film series supporting young and diverse artists.

Emphasis on diversity

Fuse has also renewed its core multiplatform diversity, equity and inclusion franchises Be Change, Future History and Buy Small. The company also announced a new initiative All In, which celebrates the spectrum of cultural identities year-round.

“When you look at our positioning about celebrating a blended America, it’s really looking at all the cultural diverse moments that are happening all year round,” said Romero. “We really want to make sure that we continue to expand on those opportunities, and less from a marketing standpoint. It’s really more about programming inclusivity, because that’s really what we want the content to reflect.”

Romero believes that Fuse’s DEI franchises will be “more meaningful” in this year’s upfront based on conversations from last year.

“I think marketers understand that there’s a huge social component when it comes to understanding multiracial, multicultural audiences. That’s really what’s going to be more meaningful than an advertising program,” said Romero.