Black History Comes Alive On Demand

More than two dozen cable networks and MSOs are teaming up to provide an extensive lineup of on-demand programming throughout February in recognition of Black History Month.

Spearheaded by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, the first-ever Black History Month on-demand initiative will offer up to 100 hours of African-American themed programming to cable subscribers, according to organization officials.

Participating operators include Cablevision Systems, Comcast, Cox Communications, Insight Communications, Mediacom Communications and Time Warner Cable, while programming is being provided by such networks as A&E Network, BET, Big Ten Network, CNN, Food Network, HBO, HGTV, History, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, Logo, MTV, National Geographic Channel, Nickelodeon, Showtime, Spike TV, Starz, Sundance Channel, TCM, Travel Channel and VH1. Movie studios Universal Studios and Warner Bros. are also contributing content, according to CTAM.

As part of the on-demand offering, viewers can access movies, music, biographies, documentaries, news and television series under the umbrella headers “Black Experience” or “Black History,” via their cable VOD menus.

With many operators having offered some form of on-demand Black History Month programming in the past, MTV Networks/BET Networks vice president of content distribution and marketing Ashley Culp said the initiative provided an opportunity for the industry to pool resources and deliver quality on demand product to consumers.

“We felt it would be a great opportunity to pull together a wealth of content from all different types of entertainment, film, music and documentaries,” he said. “With programming from Nickelodeon to BET to Food Network, we can really tell a story and provide some great content for our customers.”

Comcast will offer African-American-themed on-demand content beyond Black History Month with the launch of a monthly movie-based service.

Each month, Black Cinema On Demand will feature new titles that focus on the wide range of African-American experiences, accomplishments and culture through film. The package launches this month which such movies as Do the Right Thing, Antwone Fisher, Brown Sugar, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Malcolm X, Ray, The Best Man, The Color Purple and Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All by Myself.

“The African-American community has played a vital role in our nation’s history and made significant contributions to our entertainment and music and we are delighted to bring this content to the thousands of communities we serve every day,” said Comcast vice president of strategic initiatives Payne Brown.

Black History Month-themed original shows premiering in February:

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.