NBA Hall of Famer and business entrepreneur Earvin "Magic" Johnson served up a distribution assist Wednesday for his upstart cable network Aspire by announcing a carriage deal with Time Warner Cable during the network's New York launch party.
Aspire, one of four multicultural networks supported by Comcast under the merger conditions that allowed it to assume control of NBCUniversal, launched at 8 p.m. Wednesday night to approximately 7 million Comcast and Time Warner homes and in 16 of the top 25 African-American markets including New York City, Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, according to network officials. Johnson said the Time Warner deal was completed hours before the network's launch party in New York Wednesday night, which featured a performance by R&B group New Edition.
The network also announced celebrity hosts for its genre-themed, "Groundbreaking" primetime lineup. Actor Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Boyz n' The Hood) will host the network's Thursday night movies schedule, while actor and comedian Jonathan Slocumb (Meet The Browns) will host the network's Tuesday night lineup of comedy fare.
Actor Omari Hardwick (Sparkle) will host the network's original series ABFF Independent featuring independent films, documentaries and shorts, while Grammy Award-winning musician Esperanza Spalding will host the network's Friday night music-themed lineup, said the network.
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