“Come Here and Say That,” hosted by Alicia Menéndez and “Soccer Gods,” which will be transitioned “to a digital-first brand” are eliminated from the network’s lineup effective today.
A source says about 20 people were laid off due to the cancellations, but the network has not confirmed the number.
In a lengthy email to staff obtained by Media Moves, network president Isaac Lee announced Fusion will be focusing its programming “on three key areas — the 2016 election, investigative specials and series, and topical comedy.”
He recognized the “changes mean we’ll be saying goodbye to some of our colleagues,” but added, “we will be providing them with support to help make these transitions as easy as possible.”
Fusion turns 2 years old next month, but it’s still struggling to find an audience. The network continues to be in the trial and error phase, with most of its original programs canceled throughout the past year and a half.
Although Alicia has had a show on Fusion since the network’s launch in 2013, it had a few makeovers. It originally started as “AM Tonight,” airing weeknights at 9 pm ET. It expanded to one hour in January, adding Kim Gamble as Executive Producer.
Three months later, the show was canceled. Alicia was then moved to weeknights at 11 pm ET with “Come Here and Say That.” The show was then downsized to a weekly, before today’s cancellation.
Elections, investigations, comedy focus
Alicia will remain in the network “focusing on the race for the White House.” According to Lee’s email, she’ll “be playing a centerpiece in our coverage,” contributing to all of Fusion’s platforms, including Jorge Ramos’ weekly show “AMERICA,” which will be “the TV destination for our reporting on the campaign.”
Fusion will also beef up its investigative team, doubling it in size from 10 to 20, as it looks to launch a new “Frontline”-type investigative series aimed at a younger audience.
The network also plans to give humor more prominence, with more comedy projects in the works.
In the email, Lee emphasizes that in the past year, the network’s focus has been on refining its digital strategy. He points out that since the relaunch of Fusion.net, the website is “now reaching over 8.2 million unique visitors a month (up 228% since launch) and we are serving over 21 million video views across platforms.”
Part of that strategy included distribution of Fusion content through emerging platforms “from Snapchat Discover and Spotify, to Apple TV, Vessel, and Hulu.” Fusion is also available on Roku.
Claiming success on its digital strategy, Lee now says that after spending time examining its TV operations and programming strategy, it’s time to make changes.
“We’re building FUSION on an incredibly solid foundation — and while change is never easy, I have always said it will be a constant for us as a start-up,” he wrote in his email to staff. “We will always be a company that will learn and adapt, pushing to define what’s next. And when we find those things that work well, and new opportunities, we’ll jump in with both feet.”