LOS ANGELES — Fusion Media will be a Mouse trap no more.
The Walt Disney Co. has officially split from Fusion Media, the digital news venture it launched with Spanish-language media behemoth Univision. The venture was targeted at millennials, but hasn’t found a sweet spot or many viewers yet.
Univision, part of privately held Univision Communications, will become the sole owner of the property and will fold it into a new division, Fusion Media Group, that also includes satirical news site the Onion and pop culture portal A.V. Club. Univision will handle ad sales and distribution for Fusion’s cable channel, which was previously Disney’s responsibility, the company said in a statement.
“Fully integrating Fusion into our portfolio closely aligns with our desire to engage with our growing audience wherever they are, whenever they want, and in their language of preference,” Randy Falco, Univision’s president and chief executive, said in the statement.
Disney had been reported to be seeking an exit since December. The Mouse House’s stock weakened in the second half of 2015 and continues to struggle this year, as concerns about Disney’s cable channels, which provide the bulk of its profits, outweigh what’s been a banner few months for the company at the box office — especially in China. And Fusion hasn’t exactly been part of the profitability solution.
Financial statements released by Univision show a loss of more than $80 million since starting Fusion. Neither the cable network nor the website has been able to pick up much traffic — as Gawker bluntly pointed out in June — despite featuring high-priced name talent such as anchor Jorge Ramos and finance writer Felix Salmon, who contributes articles to the site. Ramos is arguably America’s highest-profile Spanish-language anchor, but like everything else on Fusion, his newscast is in English.
Disney isn’t exiting digital media altogether. It still owns a 10 percent stake in Vice Media — which has another cable channel still looking for an audience — which was valued at $4 billion at the time of Disney’s most recent investment in December. It’s not clear how much Disney’s stake in Fusion was worth, and terms of the Univision buyout were not disclosed.
— Meg James (@MegJamesLAT) April 21, 2016