Fuse Hopes New Shows Will Click

Nov 21, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Rainbow Media is freshening its music channel Fuse’s slate with eight new series, many featuring interactive elements that increase viewer participation.

The new shows include a daily program featuring homemade video clips of viewers making song requests, a look at the music-influenced stories behind viewers’ tattoos and a series in which viewers remix their favorite videos using downloadable editing software.

“It used to be just about throwing music videos up there; part of our job now is to find new, creative ways to context music videos,” said Robert Weiss, head of entertainment and digital media for Fuse.

The new shows are the first major programming announcement from the network after months of relative quiet while rumors of a Fuse sell-off drifted through the press. But Mr. Weiss said the plans are more indicative of the ongoing efforts of his programming team than any newfound corporate approval.

“We’ve operated at full steam ahead all year,” Mr. Weiss said. “I have the circles under my eyes to prove it. There was all this stuff going on in the upper corporate echelons, but we still had a network to put out.”

The results are not only eight new series but also a broader music range. Fuse was long dominated by white rap-metal bands, which have fallen out of favor among music fans during the past couple of years. Fuse has recently added videos from indie rock, rap, pop and hip-hop acts. Coming soon: dance acts.

“Metal rock limited our audience,” Mr. Weiss said. “I discovered the more time I spent with the young audience, they’re not just into one genre. It makes it possible for us to program with a broader music genre reach.”

Unlike Viacom-owned competitor MTV, Fuse prides itself on offering a heavy rotation of music videos, keeping video selection democratic via voting on its Web site and, in the words of Mr. Weiss, having “an anti-establishment, sarcastic point of view.”

The new shows, all produced by the network, continue its video-centric style while seizing any opportunity to incorporate viewer participation. The shows are:

  • “Dedicate Fuse”: A spinoff of Fuse’s most popular request show, “Dedicate Live,” this new half-hour daily features viewers making on-camera song requests and dedications leading into each video. For the first month, the dedications will be man-on-the-street videos shot by Fuse. After that, Fuse will open up the process to anybody with a video camera willing to send in a clip.

  • “Tattoo Stories”: The music-inspired stories behind viewer tattoos. “Everybody has a different story about what their tattoo means, and it often connects to music,” Mr. Weiss said.

  • “Love Shuffle”: Contestants answer music-based questions and face challenges in an effort to find a perfect match. Viewers can play along online or with their mobile phones to help determine a couple’s music compatibility. “It uses people’s playlists and preferences to determine how well they’ll get along on a date,” Mr. Weiss said.

  • “Fuse Video Remix”: Viewers can download editing software and music video footage on Fuse’s Web site to revamp videos by popular bands. On the show, bands will watch the best entries and select their favorite.

  • “Celebrity Playlist”: A celebrity reveals his or her music player set list and introduces the respective videos.

  • “Fuse F**k Ups”: A blooper show.

  • “Influenc’d”: A fan-driven tribute to influential bands.

  • “The Underground”: A dance music video program with segments on clubs and DJs from around the world.