HBCU Uses Web to Kick-Start Carriage Talks


Upstart HBCU Network will look
to generate a groundswell of audience interest
via the Web as it continues to negotiate operator
carriage deals for its linear channel.

The network, which will showcase live college
sports and “edutainment”
content from the 105
historically black colleges and
universities, will relaunch
its HBCUnetwork.com website
later this year to offer a
series of “robust” web channels
showcasing its programming
offerings, according to
Clint Evans, HBCU Net’s executive vice president
of distribution and marketing. The channels
will feature live HBCU-related sports
programming, original series content, digital
music radio stations, comedy and a cinema
channel that will offer full-length, independent

The network will also create an online
magazine dubbed The Yard that will be produced
by editors within the network’s target
18-to-34-year-old demo, as well as an HBCU-
themed retail store.

“We’re going to be the website
that will become a onestop
shop for all to engage in the
HBCU experience,” Evans said.

The network will soft-launch
the site March 15 with several
still-to-be-determined proposed
channels, Evans said.
More channels will come online
as of May 2, with a full rollout of the site
scheduled for September, coinciding with
launch of the linear television network.

“We’ll have some product sampling to allow
users to play with the content and get a
test of what the online site will be like,” Evans
said. “It will also allow us to get some
feedback from consumers to let us know
what they like and don’t like.”

The network, announced in September
2010, has yet to secure any cable or satellite
distribution deals.

“We had to really rethink our strategy,”
Evans said. “We’ll continue to go after the
linear space and believe that we’ll make
that happen in the fall, but our audience
told us what they want and we’re going after
it online.”