Disney to Sell Stake in Fusion to Univision

Fusion newsroom - H 2015
AP Images

Fusion newsroom - H 2015

The ABC News-Univision joint venture launched in October 2013.

Disney is planning to sell its stake in cable network Fusion, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

The network launched two years ago as a joint venture of Disney's ABC News and Univision. But Disney now plans to sell its stake, with Univision as a likely buyer, according to a person familiar with the matter but unauthorized to speak on the subject. The deal could still fall through and other bidders could emerge, but the source says that Disney's plan to sell its stake has become an open secret in the Fusion offices over the last six months. 

Disney and Univision did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Fusion spokesman declined to comment. 

Fusion was created as a home for news, lifestyle, pop culture and entertainment content for millennials, with a focus specifically on English-speaking Latinos. Disney handled distribution and sales for the fledgling network in 2013, and the source says Univision has been more closely aligned on the content side of the business, especially as Fusion has placed a focus on being a digital-first news operation. Fusion CEO Isaac Lee, who has been with Univision since 2010, simultaneously oversees news and digital for all Univision platforms and was recently promoted to chief news and digital officer for Univision Communications. 

Fusion airs The Chris Gethard Show and America With Jorge Ramos on the network. Meanwhile, it has made several key editorial hires, including former Daily Beast executive editor Jane Spencer, Jezebel founder Anna Holmes and former Reuters finance reporter Felix Salmon.

Disney's move to divest from Fusion comes after it made a series of large investments into digital media darling Vice. In the last two months, Disney has invested $400 million into the Shane Smith-led edgy news organization, which is prepping the 2016 launch of cable network Viceland

Univision, which filed for an initial public offering in June but has yet to complete the IPO, stands to gain favor with Wall Street investors for the launch of Fusion, which shows that it is broadening its reach beyond its core audience of English-speaking viewers. 

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news.