September 29, 2009

BET-J transforms into "Centric"

Have you heard BET has a new channel! They're not really making a big deal about it just yet.

BET and its Viacom parent company, MTV Networks, have launched "Centric", a new basic-cable network aimed at African-American adults. The new channel is a revamping of BET-J and will offer programs that are geared towards the same target audience of TV One.

Here's a news release from last April:

Viacom, the owner of BET, is forming a new cable television channel for middle-aged African-Americans, heightening the competition for the minority viewing audience.

The channel, to be named Centric and scheduled to make its debut in October, will be formally announced at an event for advertisers Thursday night. Centric will complement BET, executives say, by appealing to an older and more affluent audience.

The 29-year-old BET, available in 89 million homes, is the dominant network for black audiences. It attracts roughly four times as many viewers as TV One, its main competitor, which is owned by Comcast and Radio One and available in about 47 million homes. BET, with its reality shows, movies and music videos, primarily draws a teenage and young adult audience.
Cable channel start-ups are rare. With hundreds of channels already in operation, new ones often struggle to earn a spot on cable lineups, but Viacom said it would be able to assemble 45 million homes for the premiere of Centric.

Viacom executives would not comment on whether BET J, a small music-oriented offshoot of the network, would be affected by the formation of Centric.

As Viacom considered the 25- to 54-year-old target demographic for Centric, it realized that "a perfect example would be" Barack and Michelle Obama, said Scott Mills, the president of BET.
Centric will be operated jointly by the BET and MTV Networks divisions of Viacom. Viacom's channels include Nickelodeon and MTV. Doug Creutz, an analyst for Cowen & Company, called the niche strategy valid but incremental. "They're not going to hit any home runs doing this, but it can grow their reach over time," he said.

Mr. Creutz said the African-American adult audience had "been underserved," and pointed to the series of successful movies by Tyler Perry as evidence that "there's money to be made at targeting that audience."

Should we infer that since the channel has launched before its expected October date, that we know who is and who is not in charge of the Centric channel? They don't seem to be on "CP" time over there even though the Soul Train Awards have been revived back in Atlanta this November!

But as for African American targeted music video programming on TV, the rarely seen and not widely available, VH1 Soul, another MTV Network Channel, is by far the best music TV channel out there. So perhaps the channels will join forces and offer a wide variety of musical synergy. Take a peek at Centric here.

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't get my hopes up. This IS Viacom that we're talking about.


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