CAB Site Sheds LightOn Black Consumers

African-American targeted networks
are hoping the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau’s
new research site focusing on the African-American
consumer will help ad agencies see the increasing
value of the

The website,,
will provide a
roundup of African
demog raphic,
viewing and purchasing
according to Cynthia Perkins-Roberts, CAB vice
president of multicultural marketing and sales development.
It includes an overview of the African-
American consumer at a time when the media is
developing more content to reach that audience.

“There’s talk of Steve Harvey and Queen Latifah
getting talk shows and the recent announcement
of the [Soul of the South broadcast network], as well
as NBCUniversal having to launch two [African-
American owned-and-operated] networks next year,”
Perkins-Roberts told Multichannel News. “There
needed to be an opportunity to talk intelligently
about the black consumer marketplace and its value
and how to reach them effectively.”

More than 25 companies are providing information
for the site, including Nielsen, Turner Broadcasting
System and BET Networks.

Programmers in the space hope the site will help
paint a more complete picture of the value of African-
American consumers to ad agencies. Black buying
power is projected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2015,
according to the site.

“When we go out in the marketplace, our challenges
don’t tend to lean toward BET the brand but people’s
understanding and value of black consumers,”
Louis Carr, president of ad sales at BET Networks,
said. “As they tend to understand and value the black
consumer more, we’ll get some benefit from that.”

Perkins-Roberts said, for example, that African-
Americans watch 40% more television than the general
population, but under-index on digital video
recorder usage.

“They have DVRs, but they’re still appointment-
TV viewers,” she said. “They want to see their shows
when they premiere because they want to be part of
the general conversation about those shows. So the
consumption is very different than the general population.”

While the current storyline surrounding Hispanics
in the media is about growth, Perkins-Roberts said the
African-American story is one of development, and she
hopes advertisers and content providers will see the
value of that development for their own businesses.

“The African-American population is growing, but
more importantly its developing,” she said. “Even
though black consumers have been impacted more
by the recession and unemployment, they’re still
spending money and contributed to the U.S. economy
with a higher percentage of income than the total
population. We want advertisers, agencies and programmers
to take a fresh look and understand the
African-American consumer.”

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.