Fusion Signs On, But Can Potential Viewers Find It?

It’s been nearly a month since the highly anticipated debut of Hispanic-targeted English-language cable news network Fusion, and there’s some great early buzz on the channel’s offerings.

Take, for instance, the roundtable discussion on access to Healthcare.gov featuring puppets of such characters as an alien, a talking hot dog and a turtle named Sen. George Galapagos (who thinks he is a Republican U.S. senator from North Carolina) on the groundbreaking satirical news program No, You Shut Up.

Social media has been abuzz over not only the comedy-fueled offering but just about everything else on the network, a joint venture of Univision and ABC News. On Twitter, @thisisfusion is already outpacing mun2, Fox News Latino, HuffPost Latino Voices and NBC Latino on Twitter as of Nov. 11. According to web information company Alexa, Fusion.net as of November 17 already ranks as one of the top 6,000 websites by traffic in the U.S. Kay Jewelers is already an online advertiser, with pre-roll featured on the site’s video player.

Furthermore, industry chatter has included raves for Fusion’s visually stunning on-air appearance and the newsroom and set used when Jorge Ramos — arguably the dean of Hispanic television news in the U.S. — appears for his nightly news-and-issues program America with Jorge Ramos.

But who is actually watching Fusion? Or, more precisely, where are they able to watch Fusion?

Not too many places, it seems.

As of Nov. 17, Fusion could be found on Charter Communications and Cox Communications systems across the U.S., in addition to Cablevision systems, located in the New York metropolitan area. Fusion is also on the AT&T U-Verse lineup, where it was added two weeks ago. Verizion FiOS TV and Google Fiber customers can also watch Fusion.

And that’s it.

Sources close to Fusion confirm that the network’s footprint will expand over time and that Fusion has “a significant presence” in the top 5 states by Hispanic population, including Florida and Illinois.

However, the main cable service providers in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale DMA — Atlantic Broadband and Comcast — don’t include Fusion on their channel lineups. Chicago’s major cable service providers — Comcast and RCN — also don’t carry Fusion. Coverage in the Los Angeles and New York markets is also spotty, as Time Warner Cable has no home for Fusion.

Industry insiders explain that securing a spot on a cable system’s channel lineup has become increasingly difficult over the last several years, in particular for Hispanic television networks. Even with the highly limited availability of Fusion, the network launched with distribution to 20 million cable TV subscribers.

The long-term plan, says Fusion spokesman David Ford, is to grow the subscriber base to 60 million over a span of three to five years — something comparable to the rollout seen with such general-market pay TV networks as Fox Business Channel.  “Our focus is on laying a strong foundation for a fully integrated television and digital network that will grow and become more robust over time. The Disney/ABC team is handling negotiations with distributors, so Fusion is in the best possible hands. They are having active, ongoing conversations with a number of major providers. We are starting modestly with big ambitions to serve this rapidly growing audience.”

A network source adds that Fusion’s carriage is negotiated based on the timetable of Disney/ABC Media Networks, which is handling the channel’s affiliate sales. “As new multiyear agreements are negotiated, Fusion is a part of that dialogue. For example, Disney/ABC’s negotiations with Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and DirecTV will be coming up in the next couple of years.”

In the meantime, individuals that wish to add Fusion to their respective cable service providers may visit Fusion’s website and “demand Fusion today” by calling their operator or by posting requests to their Twitter or Facebook feeds.