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Aspire Expects 2.5M Subs at Launch June 27

Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s new cable
network, Aspire, will debut June 27 to 2.5 million
viewers and expects to reach the 11 million-subscriber
mark by early 2013, according to GMC TV and Aspire

GMC TV — the former Gospel Music Channel, majority-
owned by Leo Hindery Jr.’s InterMedia Partners — is
handling ad sales and affiliate negotiations for Aspire,
one of four multicultural networks supported by Comcast
Cable under the merger conditions that allowed it
to assume control of NBCUniversal.

The 2.5 million at launch is well short of the 8 million
subscribers industry sources have said Comcast offered
at launch to African-American targeted Aspire and Revolt,
and Hispanic-themed services El Rey Network and
BabyFirstTV Americas. Mary Jeanne Cavanagh, executive
vice president of ad sales for GMC and Aspire, said
the network is also in carriage talks with two other major
MSOs, but would not disclose specific details.

Overall, the network expects to be in 11 million homes
by first-quarter 2013 and 15 million homes by third-quarter
2013 — most of that carriage coming from Comcast,
according to Cavanagh.

GMC would not reveal rate-card fees for Aspire, but
said it is offering special deals for GMC affiliates and is
packaging both GMC and Aspire for distributors who
don’t carry either service. GMC TV, which offers inspirational-
themed original movies as well as acquired
series such as Amen and The Waltons, is currently in
50 million homes.

“It’s an easier sell — when you find something that’s
hot and something that people really want, you take what
you can and put it together,” Cavanagh said.

Aspire will feature acquired, African-Americanthemed
movies and documentaries, as well as original
programming, although GMC would not reveal specific
show titles.

Aspire announced several major deals with advertisers,
including Nationwide Insurance and L’Oréal USA
brands L’Oréal Paris, Maybelline New York, Garnier and
Soft-Sheen Carson.

The deals provide the L’Oréal brands, Nationwide Insurance
and Chrysler with category exclusivity through
2013, according to Cavanagh.

In addition to their on-air schedules, L’Oréal, Nationwide
Insurance and other Universal McCann clients have
secured the right to customize an event hosted by Johnson
for their employees and consumers, as well as have
the opportunity to feature their brands in a GMC world
premiere play or GMC world premiere movie, according
to Cavanagh.