Fusion, the millennial-focused TV network that launched two years ago, has positioned itself as a multiplatform media company of the future, but lately it’s been waging a very old-fashioned battle: seeking broader carriage on cable television.
Specifically, Fusion is targeting Comcast Corporation, the largest U.S. cable operator, which currently does not carry the young network. The Philadelphia-based cable giant has more than 22 million pay-TV subscribers, making it a pivotal piece of the puzzle for any TV channel seeking significant household penetration on linear cable. Fusion already has carriage agreements with Cablevision, Charter, Cox and others, but Comcast remains notably absent from its list of distributors.
Now the network is seeking to change that with the help of its growing online audience. On Tuesday, Fusion launched a Change.org petition asking fans to contact Comcast and demand that it carry Fusion as part of its channel lineup. It also has a page on its website that directs visitors to Comcast’s Facebook page, where they are encouraged to post comments and complain.
“Help millions of people get access to the shows that matter most,” the network writes. “Post on Comcast’s Facebook wall telling them to get Fusion today.”
A Comcast spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In December, Variety reported that Fusion was in talks with Comcast on a carriage deal, and a Fusion representative said at the time that Comcast and Time Warner Cable were the only major distributors not carrying the channel. Fusion’s online campaign is reminiscent of the famous “I Want My MTV” commercials of the 1980s, and shows how little has changed since George Lois, the legendary adman, supposedly came up with the idea to convince rock fans to call their cable companies and hound them until they carried the then-fledgling channel. (Spoiler alert: It worked.)
Fusion, a joint venture between the Walt Disney Co.’s ABC News and privately owned Univision, has built up a sizable digital fan base since its launch in 2013. The company also has lured big-name journalists like Felix Salmon (formerly of Reuters), Kevin Roose (formerly of New York magazine), Alexis Madrigal (formerly of the Atlantic) and Anna Holmes (the founder of Jezebel).
As NPR reported, Fusion was aimed at young Hispanics when it launched but has since broadened its focus to appeal to all millennials. Despite its rapid growth, its battle with Comcast proves this youth-aimed operation still has some old-guard mountains to climb.