TV One Doubles Down

New York — TV One will double its original
programming output over the next year
as it looks to stay competitive in a emerging
and crowded marketplace of channels targeting
African-American viewers.

Network CEO Wonya Lucas told Multichannel
that TV One’s new programming
slate will provide its target audience
with content that reflects all aspects of
African-American life and culture.

“The full vision of the network is representing
the breadth and depth of true black
life,” she said prior to the network’s upfront
presentation to advertisers here, which
featured a musical performance from R&B singer Ne-Yo.


The eight-year-old network is competing in a marketplace
that includes not only African-American targeted networks
BET and TV One, but also general-entertainment
networks like WeTV, VH1, GMC and TBS that offer original
programming targeting that audience segment. In addition,
Comcast recently announced its support for two new
entries — Aspire TV, a
family-based, inspirational
channel headed
by Earvin “Magic”
Johnson, and Revolt, a
24/hour music channel
fronted by hip hop
mogul P. Diddy — that
will compete for African-
American eyeballs
and ad dollars.

But TV One isn’t
worried the new competition
will cut into
its audience and advertiser
appeal, said
chief revenue officer Keith Bowen. The network delivers a
better-educated, higher-income and more urbane viewer
than its competitors, he said.

“There’s a lot of noise out there and a lot of people in the
space that weren’t a couple of years ago,” Bowen said. “But
I think we have a different and authentic approach that’s
highly targeted, whereas some networks are only programming
an hour or two. Black programming is our only thought
and not an afterthought.”

New shows slated for TV One’s schedule include the fourthquarter
launch of Unresolved: Celebrity Cases, which investigates
sensational cases involving prominent figures such as
the deaths of soul/R&B music stars Sam Cooke and Aaliyah
and the disappearance of basketball star Brian Williams,
aka Bison Dele, said network officials.

Other new docudramas include Save My Son, hosted
by educator, author and TV commentator Dr. Steve Perry,
which profi les the struggles of African-American families
to save sons from bad influences and poor choices; and
The Ladies of R&B, a hour-long series that follows the current
lives of R&B singers Faith Evans, Nicci Gilbert, Keke
Wyatt, Monifah Carter and Syleena Johnson.

The network will also develop a spinoff of its popular
Unsung series titled Destined, which takes a nostalgic look
back at African-American television and film actors. TV
One is also developing for 2013 a special, Bernie Mac: A
Tribute to a Comedy King
, to coincide with the five-year
anniversary of the popular comedian’s death.


On the scripted side, the network is developing such sitcoms
The Rickey Smiley Show, loosely based on the life of
the comedian and radio personality, in which he plays a
single father to four adopted children; Belles, which centers
around a recently widowed father who has to take over
his wife’s restaurant; and Church Folk, which follows a
family forced to leave their newly built mega-church in Los
Angeles and start over back home in their native South.

“We’re really excited to continue our evolution in scripted,”
Toni Judkins, executive vice president of original programming
for the network, said.

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.