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Targeting young Latinos in English: ABC and Univision to launch 'Fusion' cable channel

Jorge Ramos, the well known co-anchor of Univision's Spanish-language network news is slated to anchor Fusion’s primetime news program in English.
Jorge Ramos, the well known co-anchor of Univision's Spanish-language network news is slated to anchor Fusion’s primetime news program in English.
Lynne Sladky/AP

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On Monday evening, the new “Fusion” cable channel goes live. Fusion is  a joint venture of ABC and Univision designed to target young  millennials and Latinos … in English. 

The Fusion website launched earlier this week in beta mode, offering promotional clips and  previews of programs to come. KMEX’s Leon Krause and Jorge Ramos will anchor the channel’s news programs, "America with Jorge Ramos" and  "Open Source." Ramos is the well-known co-anchor of Univision’s network news, but he explained in a promo to his Spanish-language viewers that his new show on Fusion will be in a different format and "en ingles." 

Media analysts and marketers have discovered that more programming in English is what young Latinos want.  

"So far, we don’t get enough news from English-language sources that are very directly aimed at us,"  says Alex Nogales, president of the Pasadena-based National Hispanic Media Coalition

Nogales points out that the majority of  U.S. Latinos either move easily between English and Spanish or simply prefer to be informed and entertained in English. He expects Fusion to succeed as advertisers discover it as way to reach that audience.

"They look at the numbers and they’re saying to themselves, ‘There’s great potential here. If we can get into  this very young  population, we’ve got a HUGE customer base, not only for right now, but for the future,’" Nogales says. 

Caleb Windover is managing director of MV42, the multicultural arm of advertising giant Starcom Mediavest. He says the highly sought-after millennial demographic – 18-34 year olds — is roughly one-third Latino, so any brand trying to reach it has to factor that in. 

"If you’re not going to win with that Hispanic audience, you’re frankly not going to win with that millennial target, and I think Fusion is an example of the media infrastructure starting to better understand that," Windover says.

Windover wouldn’t say whether any of his firm’s clients are advertising on Fusion right away, but says  he’ll watch the progress of the channel closely. He and Nogales agree that Fusion’s success will depend on its programming, because millennials have a lot of viewing options.  

The channel's weeknight lineup includes an interactive show called "DNA." Telegenic correspondents Jordan Diaz and Bianca Perez previewed an upcoming segment they called "Fakestogram" that pokes fun at the social media set for using Instagram to make their lives look more interesting. 

DNA is hosted by Derrick Ashong, who was born in Ghana and raised in Saudi Arabia and New Jersey — a sign that the new channel is trying to reach more than just young Latinos.

Advertising specialist Caleb Windover says Fusion was also smart to  hire David Javerbaum, the former executive producer of “The Daily Show with John Stewart,”  to create news satirical programming.

"That type of comedic formula — which is particularly relevant for a more youth audience but with an Hispanic lens — is unique," Windover says. 

Fusion has reached deals with six major cable providers, including Cablevision, Charter, Verizon FIOS and AT&T U-verse.  So far, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable haven't made the distribution list, but Windover says that could change if one one of Fusion's prime time shows is a hit.