Fuse Media is hoping its Fuse Plus streaming service will connect with a growing audience of young Latino viewers who are consuming video on the digital platforms.
The Fuse Plus SVOD service, which launched in September and offers more than 500 hours of original and acquired content, looks to appeal to Latino viewers who are voracious consumers of streaming content. Approximately 80% of Latino TV content viewers subscribe to at least one SVOD service, with Latino viewers paying for an average of four streaming services, according to a 2021 Horowitz Research survey.
Further, half of Latino households subscribe to both a traditional MVPD and at least one streaming service, according to the survey.
Among the shows streaming on Fuse Plus are reality series Shine True, a new season of Made From Scratch and new original series Sex Sells, which focuses on sex-focused businesses from a female perspective. Debuting in December on the service is original talk/documentary series Don't Cancel Me With Amara La Negra, part of a content deal made with musician and activist Amara La Negra.
Fuse Media CEO Miguel Roggero recently talked to Multichannel News about Fuse’s strategy in reaching underserved young Latino viewers across multiple platforms. An edited version of the interview appears below.
Picture This: Why is it important for Fuse to offer services that reach young, Latino viewers on the digital platform?
Miguel Roggero: It really comes down to the original mission of Fuse, which is to put underrepresented people on TV. We started off first with Latinos and then we obviously evolved our lens to be a little bit more inclusive. We focus on showcasing stories from all people of color. The goal is no different with Fuse Plus, which is just another vehicle for that audience to see themselves. We look at it as another extension of the Fuse brand and then another way for us to reach our audience. What we do know is that viewing habits have changed a lot and there’s a lot more fragmentation. We're still big believers in linear TV, and I don't think that’s going to go away. We look at Fuse Plus as just another way of providing another option for our viewers. They can watch us on linear, or if they choose, they can watch us digitally on Fuse Plus or one of our FAST Channels we launched this year [music themed Fuse Backstage, Black lifestyle-themed Fuse Beat, and home fitness-themed Fuse Sweat]. It’s really kind of a complimentary extension of the fuse brand.
PT: Are Latinos underserved on the digital platform?
MR: Absolutely. I think the reason why we exist is that there's a serious white space out there and it shouldn't exist. Media today still does a terrible job of showcasing people of color. I thought it was changing, but to me it’s shocking that we haven't really moved the needle as far as it needs to go. That's why [Fuse Plus] is really important to us -- to make sure that this brand, what we stand for and the representation that we bring to this audience is available everywhere. Fuse Plus allows us to continue to move forward toward that mission.
PT: Are you confident that young people of color will be willing to pay to see themselves represented on screen?
MR: I think time will tell -- I don't have the answer yet. We’re trying to make our services as compelling as possible, so we try to reduce the barriers financially so that money is not an issue for people. We're very competitively priced at $1.99 per month or $20 per year. We also try to make this as frictionless as possible for all our partners, so if you’re a Dish subscriber or a Charter subscriber and you get Fuse, you're also going to get Fuse Plus -- it’s all part of your package. Our goal is to make our service ubiquitous and offer it in the manner that our viewers want to see it. Some of them want to see it on linear and some of them want to see it on digital. We want to make sure we are everywhere.
PT: Will you offer different and exclusive content on Fuse Plus that is not available on Fuse?
MR: It’s going to be similar, if not the same. That’s by design because we’re not trying to favor one service over the other -- it’s about extending the Fuse brand and making it available to everybody, however they want to see it. Any new shows that show up on the linear channel are going to show up on Fuse Plus day and date. It’s not about favoring one service over another, but making it possible for our viewers to consume the way they want to consume.
PT: Do you see any competitors for Fuse Plus in the marketplace?
MR: I think different services are going after certain niche audiences, and then there are the larger players going for the mass market with general entertainment programming, which offers a little crossover of the audiences. But I don’t see any services that are going after our multicultural, unified and inclusive approach. There are services that do focus on Spanish language programming and there are services that focus primarily on showcasing Black movies, but there is no one that’s going after this white space that we’re going after, and I’m really surprised by that. ■
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.