Comcast Drops Fuse After A Decade; Channel Exec Calls Decision Is “Surprising And Troubling”

UPDATED with statement from Comcast: In a statement provided to Deadline, Comcast said in regards to dropping Fuse: “We regularly evaluate our channel lineups and sometimes make changes to ensure we’re offering customers a wide variety of the content that they want to see at the best value. Comcast carries over 160 independent networks and more than 100 networks geared toward diverse audiences, including multiple networks owned or operated by minorities.”

They continued, “In this case, much of the content carried by Fuse is similar to content that also is available on other networks, such as BET, BET Her, TV One, Bounce TV and Pop. We also are launching two new African American majority owned networks, AFRO and CLEO TV. We understand that some customers may find Fuse’s programming of interest, and we will work with them to find options that will help them continue to watch other content like this programming.”

 Comcast has decided to drop Fuse, which focuses on multicultural programming. The news was announced today by Michael Schwimmer, President and CEO of Fuse Media.

“Despite Comcast’s publicly-stated commitment to support diverse and independently operated networks, Comcast has elected to drop Fuse, a multicultural-focused television network, on December 31, after more than a decade of carriage,” Schwimmer said in a statement to Deadline. “This decision is both surprising and troubling considering that Fuse met Comcast’s financial demands, and no other requirements were ever communicated to us. A commitment to diversity is an enduring value, not a politically expedient card for Comcast to play until such time as consent decrees or business objectives no longer require it. Comcast’s behavior leading to its decision to drop Fuse reveals an agenda inconsistent with their public statements, giving further credence to the merit of on-going DOJ oversight.”

Schwimmer added: “We have been dedicated from the very beginning to providing opportunities for diverse creative talent to entertain and inform diverse communities. By removing our network from its consumer offering, Comcast is silencing yet another independent media company, in this case one that is devoted to providing a platform for inclusive voices and authentic representation at a uniquely important time in our society.”

Fuse is home to series such the unscripted T-Pain’s School of Business and The Hollywood Puppet Show from executive producer Wilmer Valderrama and Entertainment One. Their programming also includes the Fuse Docs series of documentaries such as the Peabody Award-winning Indivisible about Dreamers. Fuse recently greenlit the new animated series Sugar and Toys.

Fuse has a loyal viewership, specifically from underserved communities. From 2015 through end of 3rd quarter 2018 Fuse’s ratings are up over 50% in the coveted P18-34 age group while overall ad-supported cable declined 34% in the demo during the same timeframe. As well during Q3, Fuse delivered a 74% multicultural comp ranking it #5 among English-language ad-supported entertainment cable networks.

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