Bounce TV Bites into BET’s Market
(The Wrap) — The announcement that Martin Luther King III and others will launch a new broadcast network catering to African-Americans begs the question of whether there’s room for another such network alongside BET. The better question: Why aren’t there more already? As broadcast networks have failed to keep pace with African-American viewers’ desire for shows that speak directly them, one of television’s most reliable audiences has increasingly turned elsewhere. Bounce TV, which will debut in the fall, believes that creates plenty of opportunity to compete with BET, BET’s Centric, and TV One. “Our audience is so desperately underserved, we think they will welcome a fourth option – and one that will be an over-the-air, broadcast network,” Bounce co-executive vice president Ryan Glover told TheWrap.
For years, the 31-year-old BET has been the only network catering specifically to African-Americans. The network, which reaches 89 million households, grew to be one of the most successful on cable. But BET’s heavy emphasis on sexed-up hip-hop videos has alienated some viewers, especially older ones – including co-founder Sheila Johnson, who said last year she was “ashamed” of the network she and her then-husband, Bob, sold to Viacom in 2000. TV One, whose investors include Radio One and Comcast, has tried to take advantage of the age schism by appealing to African-Americans 25 and older. Since launching in 2004 it has grown to reach about 50 million homes and become BET’s biggest competitor.