Bounce TV just launched in the US with the slogan "TV Our Way." Its first on-air program? Michael Jackson and Diana Ross in The Wiz.
Its schedule is packed with movies with “proven playability among black audiences,” such as A Raisin in the Sun, Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, Shackles, Glory, and a week of Richard Pryor comedies. The rest of its on-air lineup features acquired TV shows such as Soul Train, a mix of original programming: sports (primarily, black college football games), documentaries and faith-based programs.
Bounce TV isn't the first or only network targeting African Americans, of course.
Bob Johnson sold BET to Viacom in 2000 for $3 billion, and it's still going strong, while TV One launched in 2004 with backing by Radio One and Comcast. Other entrants in the space have struggled, however, including Black Family Channel, which closed in 2007.
While launching a new TV brand is never easy, Bounce as much about representation on-air as behind the scenes. As co-founder Martin Luther King III commented to The Wrap, "My father envisioned the day that African Americans would play major roles in entertainment within ownership, not just serve as entertainers on the stage or in front of the cameras."
King added, "That's what makes this even more exciting to me as we embark on this new endeavor of an independently owned and operated broadcast television network featuring African Americans.”
Bounce president Ryan Glover sees plenty of room for the network as black viewers are "desperately underserved." He's targeting an older demo than BET, whose audience skews younger and favors hip-hop videos, he adds.
"The quicker we grow into original [programming] to grow into a real identity, the better," he told The Wrap. He's particularly excited about college sports featuring HBCU (America's historically black colleges and universities) teams as a draw. Bounce last night aired a football game between Virginia Union and HBCU rival Bulldogs of Bowie State.
“Bounce is one of the strongest arguments out there for making sure broadcasters keep their full swathe of spectrum. Cram them too close together, and their ability to exploit the digital capacity they spent so much money on will be lost, including programming such as this that is a perfect example of serving the three pillars of FCC policy — localism, competition and diversity,” comments RBR-TVBR.
It could certainly become a bounty for brands and targeted advertising, if Glover, King and their team can figure out the magical programming mix that attracts — and keeps — African American viewers.
While they've no doubt done their research and feel their target audience needs another TV channel "just for them," viewers (as ever) will cast their vote ... with a remote control.
Below: a Bounce TV launch promo featuring TLC's Chilli —