How Fusion is building the TV brand of the future: an interview with Jonathan Stern
Fusion Media Group, which includes their flagship TV network and powerful brands like The Onion and The Root has had a busy year. This summer they acquired Gawker Media keeping many of their powerful brands alive. They recently picked up The Young Turks as a one-hour TV show that will run until the 2016 election. Fusion also partnered with All Def where it broadcasted the All Def Movie Awards the same night of the Oscars.
The Young Turks on Fusion
Found Remote interviewed Jonathan Stern, the SVP of strategic development at Fusion, about IBC (TV's tech event in Amsterdam), the brand's content strategy, his role at Fusion and how content will be consumed in the future. Stern has been in the trenches for Fusion as the group has expanded and previously built up Red Bull Media's video business. Fusion's development of some of the web's biggest brands is helping the media company that Univision helped start, set a standard for the future of TV.
The Found Remote: To kick things off, do you want to give an overview again of what your role is within Fusion and how you ended up there?
Jonathan Stern: Currently, I’m SVP for strategic development at Fusion. Part of that involves responsibility for developing strategic plan to help grow the reach of our content and programming across our platforms, both domestically and internationally. I was formerly VP and head of Business Development and I continue to work on a lot of our company-wide business development strategic partnerships, domestically, as well. I have also helped to build our entire OTT strategy, platform growth and distribution. That’s everything from AppleTV, Roku, Amazon Fire, TV and stick, connected TVs and then on top of all of that, I also am involved in some level on different production partnerships that continue to, in our view, add value to all of our various content offerings. I helped to negotiate our deal with All Def to do the All Def Movie Awards. We have a series with The Young Turks around the election that I helped negotiate.
FR: [At IBC] what were the trends you saw there? Why was it an important event to be at?
JS: Part of what we look to create is an ecosystem where we can tell stories along various television, linear and digital touch points. We hope to use one platform to feed and sustain interest in other platforms. Part of that strategy involves creating strong experiences on connected and streaming devices. Being at IBC really gave me a lot of exposure to many different companies as we seek to improve the quality of the experience that we give to our consumer, as well as improve our own analytics and efficiencies within our company.
FR: In terms of the future and TV, do you see there being a time that linear goes away and it becomes more of a digital and OTT system or is it all kind of working together and there are places for all of these different platforms?
JS: I think the story of linear’s demise is a little bit overstated. Having said that, I think we are seeing an industry that has increased recognition and appreciation that there are so many other touch points with which to engage in programming experiences. Over time we are going to become better curators to our audiences on these different platforms. We are going to learn to serve up different experiences but I think great programming is great programming. Provided that awesome programming continues to live on television networks as it does today, linear is going to continue to evolve and shift and we’re seeing that there are a lot of companies that are playing around with that.