The HBCU Network, a “24/7,” 365 days a year sports, “edutainment” and lifestyle network dedicated to the 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) across the United States, will launch in 2011, it was announced today by holding company C3 Media, LLC. Designed to fill a void in the cable industry, the channel will be the official destination of the four major HBCU Conferences (MEAC, SWAC, SIAC, CIAA) featuring Division I & Division II Black College Sporting events. Additionally, the network will offer a full complement of education & entertainment (edutainment) as well as lifestyle programming. Built on the solid foundation of the 143-year old HBCU brand, it will focus on a previously unexplored aspect of African American life of significant cultural importance to the global community.
In an unprecedented move, the new channel brings a different business model to the cable industry by reinvesting in the African American community it serves. The HBCU Network will provide a 20% equity position to the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, offering direct financial benefit and long-term sustainability.
“The idea and vision behind the creation of the HBCU Network is to preserve and celebrate the African American colleges and universities, while also providing opportunities for their growth and further prosperity,” said CEO Curtis Symonds. “At the same time, we are passionate and excited about building a strong media brand and network from the ground up.”
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the HBCU Network is owned and operated by C3 Media, LLC, a holding company that includes an executive team with more than 75 years of cable industry experience. C3 Media LLC is comprised of industry notables including veteran cable television executives Curtis Symonds, Chief Executive Officer; Clint Evans, Executive Vice President, Distribution & Marketing, and Candace Walker, Executive Vice President, Programming.
“We are excited at the opportunity to bring an unexplored side of the African American experience to television,” said Ms. Walker, EVP, HBCU Net Programming. “Our goal is to engage our audience with quality programming that promotes the rich history and legacy of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities while giving voice to a young and diverse urban population. HBCU Net is well-positioned to educate, motivate and inspire with a clear focus on African American heritage and legacy.”
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Network Partnerships and Alliances
The network is presently negotiating programming alliances with cable heavyweight ESPN, which includes rights to the Black College conference games where ESPN currently has exclusive rights deals, as well as additional programming opportunities. HBCU Net is also pursuing an alliance with TV One, a network targeting Adult African American viewers.
Initial Distribution and Audience
Having garnered the attention of the nation’s top four MSO’s: Comcast, Cox, Time Warner, and Charter, the HBCU network is in advanced communications regarding carriage and anticipates launching with an initial distribution of approximately 10 million households.
According to Clint Evans, Executive Vice President, Distribution & Marketing, “The HBCU Network will be available across the United States, but initially within the 20 state HBCU footprint. This footprint encompasses the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Southern regions of the country.”
The network’s primary audience will consist of African Americans 15-24 years of age and include the HBCU student population, Panhellenic organizations, Theological seminaries and the multicultural and general market student populations at non traditional universities and colleges. The network will also target HBCU faculty, alumni and sports fans; along with the broader African American 25 – 49+ population, as well as the multicultural and general market, and the educational community.