Fuse Media Heads Into Upfront With New Branded Content Studio

Company picked up seven new shows for linear and digital platforms

The Hollywood Puppet Show, starring Wilmer Valderrama, presents untold celebrity stories that are reenacted by marionette puppets. Fuse
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With ratings among its core millennial demographic on the rise last year, Fuse Media is heading into this year’s upfront event with a new branded content studio, Fuse Collab, to help create branded content and custom events for clients.

The company, which targets multicultural millennials, also announced today that it has picked up seven new series for its various platforms: the Fuse network, FM (Fuse Music) and digital platforms.

Last year, “we fine-tuned our brand,” said Fuse Media president and CEO Michael Schwimmer. As a result, Fuse network increased its target audience of adults 18-34 by 33 percent from 2016, while digital viewers were up 49 percent.

New shows include Hip-Hop Houdini, in which street magician Smoothini (Tomas B. De la Cruz, Jr., whose YouTube videos have generated more than 60 million views) interacts with music stars like Iggy Azalea and Lil John, creating an illusion designed specifically for that artist. It debuts July 17 on Fuse, the same day as Season 2 of The Hollywood Puppet Show.

In the new comedic adventure series, Side Gig, T-Pain will partner with young entrepreneurs, while docuseries The 212 spotlights six millennials who are posed to make waves New York’s music, fashion and art scenes.

FM will air a still-untitled show that packages short-form digital and social offerings from the Fuse Digital Content Studio, which recently launched.

Hip-Hop@45—a series of long-form and short-form videos celebrating hip-hop’s 45th anniversary—will air across all Fuse Media platforms this summer.

Those series join 10 returning shows, including The Hollywood Puppet Show, starring creator and executive producer Wilmer Valderrama. The show, which presents untold celebrity stories that are reenacted by marionette puppets, will feature Marlon Wayans, Nick Cannon and Meagan Good during Season 2.

“Our target multicultural millennial audience appreciates brands that are authentic, thought-provoking and reflect their values and passions,” said evp of ad sales and integrated marketing, Jason Miller, in a statement. “We continue to engage our audience everywhere they consume content, and connect our brand partners’ messages to them in a way that resonates most, with content native to each platform.”

Fuse Media will increase its offerings for brands with the new in-house branded entertainment studio, Fuse Collab, which will create branded content, experiential opportunities and custom events. In addition to aligning brands with “A-level talent,” it is also “giving brands access to the country’s most important musical festivals and events,” said Miller.

Fuse Collab will work with the Fuse Digital Content Studio and the company’s new audience development division to optimize that branded content across digital platforms.

Already, Fuse Collab has partnered with Twix to amplify its music festival strategy.

Miller said he expects to sell around 65 percent of Fuse’s national inventory in the upfront event.

Fuse is available in 65 million households, while sister network FM is in 40 million households.

@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.