Greenlights 7 New Original Series Across Fuse, FM and Digital Platforms
New Programming includes T-Pain in SIDE GIG (working title); Street Magician Smoothini in HIP-HOP HOUDINI; and Multiplatform Content Celebrating HIP-HOP@45
Renewals Include THE HOLLYWOOD PUPPET SHOW Starring and Executive Produced by Wilmer Valderrama; COMPLEX X FUSE in Partnership with Complex Networks; FUTURE – HISTORY; and FUSE DOCS
NEW YORK and LOS ANGELES — April 11, 2018 — Fuse Media, a cross-platform entertainment media brand for multicultural youth, today unveiled a robust slate of original content as part of its Upfront presentation for 2018-19. This line-up lives at the intersection of music culture and multiculture – embracing the Fuse brand’s music DNA and the company’s commitment to reflect the faces of a young, diverse generation of Americans that makes up 44 percent of all millennials (and up to 75 percent of millennials in the top 20 U.S. DMAs).
The seven new and 10 returning series feature a range of talent, both established and rising stars – from Wilmer Valderrama and T-Pain to hip-hop magician Tomas B. De la Cruz, Jr. (a.k.a. Smoothini) – and tap into the values and passions that are most important to this audience. Fuse Media has also announced an additional 11 series in development.
“Our strategy to entertain and engage young, multicultural millennials across all of our platforms has come together,” said Fuse Media President & CEO Michael Schwimmer. “We’re bringing together research, practical experience and a talented team to deliver what this audience has told us they want: a place to see themselves, their passions and values on display, including through authentic, multiplatform access to their favorite music artists.”
This line-up is being announced following a strong 2017, in which the flagship Fuse network grew its core audience of Adults 18-34 by +33 percent vs. 2016* while its non-linear video views also increased (+49 percent) year-over-year.
Returning to Fuse…
Returning series include THE HOLLYWOOD PUPPET SHOW (starring, created and executive produced by Valderrama) with a second season of untold celebrity stories reenacted by puppets, premiering July 17. Talent set to guest-star includes Colombian cross-over success J Balvin, Meagan Good, Young M.A and Prince Royce. Also returning for a second season is the FUSE DOCS series of powerful documentaries, and the multi-platform FUTURE – HISTORY, which spotlights rising talent who are making an impact on the future of Fuse’s core audience.
Additionally, Fuse Media and Complex Networks will team up for two more seasons of COMPLEX X FUSE – a collection of never-before-seen short-form content from Complex’ hit digital series including ‘Hot Ones,’ ‘Sneaker Shopping,’ ‘Everyday Struggle’ and more, on Fuse before they’re available anywhere else.
New Series on Fuse…
Among the new programming greenlighted by Fuse Media is the unscripted, street magic-meets-music series, HIP-HOP HOUDINI, which follows Smoothini as he engages with today’s top artists – including Iggy Azalea, A$AP Ferg and Lil Jon – through his unique style. It premieres July 17 on the Fuse television network alongside the second season of THE HOLLYWOOD PUPPET SHOW.
Other new originals coming to Fuse in 2018-19 include a comedic adventure series pairing GRAMMY® Award-winning artist T-Pain with the most innovative young entrepreneurs, SIDE GIG (working title); and docuseries THE 212, which follows six breakout millennials on the pulse of the New York City music, fashion and art scenes and catching the eyes of some of music’s biggest stars.
FM is Fuse Music…
For the FM (Fuse Music) network, six recently-launched music video series are returning: FUEGO, HOT LIST, SUGAR HIGH, WANDERLUST, FM 19 and RUN THE WORLD bring passionate music fans curated playlists that dive deep into the genres they love. These include the hottest and most buzzworthy Latin, tropical and pop music, showcases on powerful female voices, the best animated music videos on the planet and more.
Also on FM, UNTITLED DIGITAL CONTENT BLOCK will package together short-form series from the recently launched Fuse Digital Content Studio, following their premieres on Fuse Media’s digital and social media channels. These include series such as BEHIND THE BAR, LIE DETECTOR, MADE FROM SCRATCH and WEEKLY NEWS RAP.
Finally, HIP-HOP@45 – a special series of long- and short-form content celebrating the 45th anniversary of hip-hop – will debut this summer across all Fuse Media platforms.
“Our programming reflects what is most important to the multicultural millennial audience, while tapping into our deep music roots as a gateway to all aspects of youth culture across TV, digital and social platforms,” says Fuse Media Chief Content Officer J-T Ladt. “Side Gig highlights one of the most engaging voices in music while providing a platform to innovators that reflect the entrepreneurial spirit of our audience; The 212 is a unique approach to telling stories of youth giving up the status quo to live THEIR American dreams; and with Hip-Hop Houdini and The Hollywood Puppet Show, we are using out-of-the-box formats to get an authentic look behind the curtain of the most influential voices of this generation.”
New Research and New Divisions Support Fuse Media’s Mission…
This programming strategy is reinforced by The Fuse Multicultural Insider, a new survey by Insight Strategy Group and commissioned by Fuse Media that sheds light on the connection between how millennials define themselves and how programmers and advertisers can better reach them. According to the research, multicultural millennials want programming that reflects their identity and challenges them, but also allows them to laugh. For example, 74 percent of millennial Fuse viewers say “it is important that characters represent me and my identity,” +22 percentage points higher than other millennial cable audiences. (Click for an infographic with new research on millennials and content.)
On the advertising side, the study also showed that 86 percent of millennial Fuse viewers like when brands create content that tells a story rather than advertises a product (+8 percentage points higher than other cable networks’ millennial audiences) and 88 percent enjoy ads that show multicultural experiences (+9 percentage points higher than other cable networks’ millennial audiences).
“Our target multicultural millennial audience appreciates brands that are authentic, thought-provoking and reflect their values and passions,” said Fuse Media EVP, Ad Sales and Integrated Marketing Jason Miller. “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.”
To this point, the company has also launched Fuse Collab, a new unit that will build on successes in branded entertainment through a full-service, in-house creative, talent and event marketing division that creates content, experiential opportunities and custom events. It is working closely with the above-mentioned Fuse Digital Content Studio and brand clients to co-create new opportunities to engage with this valuable audience, as well as a new Audience Development Division to ensure reach, distribution, engagement and revenue opportunities for all digital and branded content are optimized across digital.
COMPLETE SERIES DESCRIPTIONS
THE HOLLYWOOD PUPPET SHOW (Fuse; Season 2 premieres July 17; 10 x 30’ episodes): From Wilmer Valderrama, Entertainment One (eOne) and WV Entertainment, this original series features outrageously true stories told by celebrities and re-enacted by real life marionettes. Some of the guest stars in season 2 include: J Balvin, Meagan Good, Prince Royce, Jhené Aiko, Marlon Wayans, Lilly Singh, Nick Cannon, Teyana Taylor, The Fat Jewish, Krewella, Young M.A, Arianny Celeste, blackbear, Bow Wow, Lil Jon, Cam’Ron, Sofía Reyes and T-Pain. The show is executive produced by Valderrama, WV Entertainment (Charming, Yo’ Momma, Douglas Family Gold, Buggin Out, The Ricardo Laguna Project) and Tara Long and Mark Herwick for eOne (Growing Up Hip Hop franchise, Siesta Key, Death Row Chronicles, LA Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later; Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G and the upcoming US version of the hit format Ex on the Beach).
· COMPLEX X FUSE (Fuse; Seasons 2 and 3, 20 x 60’ episodes): Takes a look at athletes and celebs eating killer food, answering burning questions, and revealing the secrets behind the hottest sneakers. This includes the most influential names in music, with past episodes featuring Logic, DJ Khaled and Lil Yachty, to name a few. Produced by Complex Networks.
· FUSE DOCS (Fuse; Season 2): This series of documentaries making their U.S. TV premieres returns for a second season. Spotlighting young, idealistic and diverse people who are celebrating their cultural heritage and identity, confronting issues, and overcoming prejudice, Fuse documents their journeys and partners with organizations to help ignite a multiplatform conversation around each title. Documentaries that premiered in 2017 include the Daytime Emmy® Award-nominated Bean and Peabody Award-nominated Indivisible.
FUTURE – HISTORY (Fuse/FM/Digital): Fuse Media continues to celebrate rising talent who are making a significant impact now in music, film, sports, TV and literature in this year-round series of special cross-platform content. This includes Future Black History (February), Future Women’s History (March), Future Asian/Pacific History (May), Future LGBTQ History (June) and Future Hispanic History (mid-September to mid-October), with Fuse, FM, Fuse.tv and the Fuse social channels spotlighting those who are affecting our future and writing history with features and short-form video content. Future – History programming will also include a themed music block celebrating artists in each category.
· FUEGO, HOT LIST, SUGAR HIGH, WANDERLUST, FM 19 and RUN THE WORLD (FM): These six, weekly afternoon and primetime music video series, which premiered in February 2018, will continue to air new episodes throughout the year, bringing passionate music fans curated playlists that dive deep into the genres they love. These include the hottest and most buzzworthy Latin, tropical and pop music, showcases on powerful female voices, the best animated music videos on the planet and more.
HIP-HOP HOUDINI (Fuse; series premieres July 17; 6 x 30’ episodes): In each episode, master magician and online sensation Tomas B. De la Cruz, Jr. (a.k.a. Smoothini) immerses himself into the world of a music influencer. Disarming them with mind-blowing magic tricks, he gets to know A$AP Ferg, Becky G, Fat Joe, Iggy Azalea, Lil Jon and Waka Flocka Flame and reveals something about each featured artist that even their most devoted fans didn’t know. By the end of each episode, Smoothini will unveil an illusion custom-designed for the artist. Smoothini has established a significant presence on YouTube with videos generating more than 60 million views, including one of the top ten most-viewed America’s Got Talent segments in history. Hip-Hop Houdini is a 7Beyond production (My Lottery Dream Home, My Kitchen Rules and Gingerbread Giants) with Michael Krupat and Adam Vetri serving as executive producers.
· SIDE GIG (working title) (Fuse; 6 x 30’): In this comedic adventure series, host T-Pain is on a mission to discover the perfect “side gig” to jump-start his rise to entrepreneurial dominance … by exploring the most unexpected, inspiring and outside-the-box businesses championed by upstart millennials and members of Generation Z. From socially-conscious, style-themed start-ups and weed operations to airborne autonomous drone taxis, each adventure looks at unique innovators and the secret behind their hustle. Executive Produced by Jonas Bell Pasht, Jonah Bekhor, and T-Pain. Produced by Citizen Jones.