By Sahil Patel
Finance writer Felix Salmon, who announced this week that he’s leaving his gig at Reuters after five years, is set to join cable network Fusion as a senior editor.
In a letter posted to Medium, Salmon divulged a few more details as to why he is joining Fusion, which is jointly owned by ABC and Univision.
The point of Fusion, Salmon said, is to create content for the millennial generation, which naturally means making that content available on the screens that the kids are on these days.
“Fusion’s digital presence is going to be at least as important as its TV programming. If not more important,” said Salmon in his letter.
That said, the company’s strategy is premised on the belief that if Fusion can create value for its brand among younger generations online, it can then build a valuable TV property — where the real money is. From Salmon himself:
“For one thing, millennials spend a lot more time on their phones than they do watching TV, so if you want to reach them, you need to be digital at heart. More importantly, the cable TV companies are themselves petrified that a generation of cord-cutters is going to grow up on nothing but their phones and other devices, and that all their revenues will dwindle to nothing. How are the cable companies going to make the case to a new generation that they’re still relevant? By serving up the channels that those people care about and talk about.
So here’s the idea: let’s say we can serve up high-quality Fusion-branded content to a new generation of digital natives, and that they love that content. If and when that happens, it’s going to be a lot easier for the cable companies to persuade that audience to pay for cable TV if their cable lineup also includes Fusion. The content won’t be the same, of course — but the brand will be. And the cable companies are going to want the Fusion brand on their lineup because that’s the only way they’re going to be able to seem relevant to anybody under the age of 32. The result: Fusion has negotiating leverage with the cable channels, and becomes very valuable.”
To build a valuable property for millennials, Fusion is embracing the open (and fragmented) of the web, and will look to create content that can live anywhere, not just on its own site. If Fusion’s audience is on Instagram, said Salmon, then the company will create 15-second videos for the social network. “If they’re on Upworthy or BuzzFeed or Vox or even Snapchat, we’ll try to find a way to reach them there, too. It’s what I call promiscuous media: put everything where it works best.”
Video, or at least visual content, seems to be a focus at Fusion, with a team based in Miami that’s comprised of video and data-visual experts, as well as animators.
As for Salmon, the writer, though, he wants to do more of what he refers to as “post-text” content. “I want to do immersive digital stuff, I want to make animations, I want to use video, I want to experiment with new ways of communicating in a new medium,” he said. “I can do all of that at Fusion.”