A rush to grab more ethnic viewers has Viacom’s MTV Networks looking to launch a new, older Afro-American-targeted network called Centric. Company officials say it will launch this October with 45 million subscribers, one of the bigger launches for a cable network in recent years.
Centric would complement Viacom’s venerable BET channel, which goes into 89 million homes and skews mostly to younger Afro-American viewers, in the 18-34 and 18-49 demographics.
In part, Centric intends to compete with TV One, the Comcast/Radio One-owned network, which targets 25-to-54 African-American viewers and reaches 47 million subscribers. As Viacom considered this target demo for Centric, it realized that “a perfect example would be” Barack and Michelle Obama, Scott Mills, the president of BET told The New York Times.
Centric would be one of a number of African-American targeted network announcements issued over the past year.
In November, Urban Television was announced by BET founder Bob Johnson and NBC Universal’s ION Media Networks.
Also last year, music rap heavyweight Master P (Percy Miller) announced Better Black Television, a more family-friendly network. More recently, Houston-based Black Broadcasting Network announced plans to launch an urban-targeted entertainment network in 2009.
In April 2008, Black Television News Channel was announced from former Congressman J.C. Watts. With a cable operator deal in tow from Comcast, it’s set to launch this year.
It isn’t known whether Viacom’s two existing music-oriented channels, targeted in part to Afro-American audiences — BET J and VH1 Soul, which have 47 million collective subscribers — will be part of Centric.
By Wayne Freeman for Mediapost.com