Comcast Corporation announced it has selected two new African American majority-owned independent networks to be broadly distributed on Comcast Cable systems beginning in January 2019. After a thorough evaluation of dozens of proposals, Comcast selected AFRO and CLEO TV, both of which will provide quality entertainment that highlights and features TV and movie content about African-American and black communities.
“The offerings from both AFRO and CLEO TV serve as an excellent complement to the growing catalog of programming choices we offer about global black communities,” said Keesha Boyd, Executive Director, Multicultural Products at Comcast Cable. “We remain committed to delivering a wide array of programming by partnering with independent networks, such as the two we’re announcing today, to better serve our increasingly diverse customer base.”
AFRO, a channel from Afrotainment, is a 24-hour polycultural black network mainly broadcasting top-rated Nollywood and black movies, dramas, sitcoms, music, talk, and late night comedy shows.
“We are excited to bring AFRO’s live content and growing on-demand catalog of more than 300 hours of original programming to millions of Xfinity customers. Comcast’s selection of AFRO, which is a recognition of the rich diversity in black content and culture, solidifies our position as a leader in polycultural black home entertainment in North America,” said Yves Bollanga, Founder and CEO of Afrotainment.
CLEO TV is a lifestyle and entertainment network targeting Millennial and Gen X women of color. Derived from the name Cleopatra, one of the most powerful, trendsetting, rule-breaking and iconic women in history, CLEO TV will offer quality content that defies negative and cultural stereotypes of today’s modern women. The network promises a unique and diverse offering of short-form and long-form content including travel, home design, cooking, talk shows, movies, docu-series, sitcoms and much more.
CLEO TV’s original programming lineup for First Quarter 2019 includes two new series. NEW SOUL KITCHEN is the ultimate cooking show featuring culinary superstars Chef Jernard Wells and vegan chef Porsche Thomas delivering soul food recipes with a healthy twist. Harlem based Chef JJ Johnson, one of the culinary world’s most sought-after stars, brings his delicious delights to CLEO TV with celebrity friends and influencers on JUST EATS WITH CHEF JJ. Launching in Second Quarter 2019 is the series LIVING BY DESIGN WITH JAKE AND JAZZ, hosted by brother/sister duo Jake and Jazz Smollett, who team up to transform the living, work and play spaces of millennial families. During each episode, Jake and Jazz will enter the home of a millennial, help them turn their design dreams into reality, then conclude with a delicious recipe curated by our hosts to celebrate their redesigned space. CLEO TV also has two travel series in development that are slated to launch in Third Quarter 2019 — a travel and culture guide for Black millennials and a series centered on adventure travel.
CLEO TV’S acquired, scripted digital series offerings include EVERYTHING I DID WRONG IN MY 20’S, which tracks the journey of 35-year-old Stephanie who’s in search of happiness and determined to learn from the mistakes of her past. THE UNWRITTEN RULES is a hilarious series based on the book “40 Hours and an Unwritten Rule” that chronicles young, opinionated Racey as she arrives at her new job only to discover she is the sole Black employee. Additional programs include popular web series that reflect the dynamic experiences of Black millennials, from adulthood drama to dating struggles.
“We’re at a pivotal moment in history where women are making a huge impact in our society and culture, especially women of color,” said Michelle Rice, TV One’s General Manager. “CLEO TV will offer a diverse mix of lifestyle and entertainment content through the unique lens of Millennial and young Gen-X women of color, an audience segment that is currently underserved. CLEO TV will leverage the comprehensive media platform of our parent company Urban One, Inc. which includes digital, television and radio divisions that will each play an integral role in bringing this new network to the marketplace. We are grateful to Comcast for the tremendous opportunity to elevate new voices in our industry.”
To narrow down the proposals received, the main criteria Comcast considered were: the content of the network; whether the network is fully financed; whether the network’s ownership and/or management group(s) are well established, have relevant experience, and are substantially owned by African Americans; whether the network is already launched and has existing or potential multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) distribution; price; and whether the network and its potential carriage provide value to Comcast and its customers.
AFRO and CLEO TV will join over 100 diverse networks available across Xfinity platforms, which offered over 14,000 hours of diverse on demand and online programming in 2017. In 2011, as part of Comcast’s commitments made in connection with the NBCUniversal transaction, Comcast agreed to launch 10 new independently owned and operated networks by 2019, including eight that are minority-owned or -operated. Six minority-owned networks have already launched, including BabyFirst Americas (2012), El Rey (2013), Kids Central (2017), and Primo TV (2017) which are primarily Hispanic American owned and operated; and ASPiRE (2012) and REVOLT (2013) which are majority African American owned. AFRO and CLEO TV will be the next two networks to launch as part of this commitment.