Thursday, April 23, 2009

Centric: BET, Viacom Launch New Network. Why?

NYTimes.com reports BET and it's owner, Viacom, will launch a new cable network called Centric this October to provide a channel to complement BET that will appeal to the "older and more affluent audience", specifically African Americans between the ages of 25-54 year olds.

Why am I not excited? First, what purpose is BETJ serving? Of course, there's no official word yet on how this new network will affect the original BET offshoot. But I think the writing is on the wall, Facebook and otherwise. Fade to black and roll credits is the future I'm predicting for BETJ. But it shouldn't have to be. Instead of creating new networks, why not improve what's already in existence?

This interracial network couple creating a new network is like parents bringing home a new baby and spoiling it while it's older neglected siblings watch in misery. But as the saying goes, "Don't take it personal, it's just business."

Secondly, why "Centric" for a network name? Afrocentric, egocentric, centrical...the basic meaning of the word states Dictionary.com is "pertaining to or situated near the center." Okay, you don't need a degree in linguistics to figure out the connection between the term and the new network's audience, but just how "centric" will BET and MTV be in reaching the bottom line.

Trust BET's and MTV's purposes are not altruistic. Networks are created to make money not fill societal or cultural tv programming holes. And Centric's targeted market of African-Americans may have a little more to spend than either network's previous young demographics. As analyst for Cowen & Company, Doug Creutz, states in the article, "there's money to be made in targeting that audience?" You think? How long did it take for Viacom and BET to come up with that? That long, huh? (Sarcasm intended.)

And my last question, since Centric's target market is seemingly a tad more sophisticated in it's television viewing, what kind of programming will it offer? Like most start ups will it be reruns of tired sitcoms that are in syndication heaven or hell--depending on how you look at it--all over cable? We've been there, seen that.
I'd like some original programming with my McDonald's ads please! And yes, Supersize it!

Okay I lied, one more question. If this Ebony and Ivory duo of cable networks are now gonna live in perfect harmony just where will Centric be headquartered? Inquiring minds want to know specifically because the biggest perk of starting this new venture in my opinion is the possibility of needed jobs in the industry. BET J employees may actually have a chance to make some lateral moves and tv writers and producers may have a new opportunity to sell a show idea. Only time will tell.

Damn I can't stop talking. I'm closing with this I promise. Though the market Centric plans to reach has been underserved and overlooked I'm curious to know just how much television this educated, middle classed, somewhat affluent African-American demo really watches. Most of those fitting the demo that I know, myself included, don't have time nor desire to watch that much television. We're generally busy people and our tv viewing is limited by choice or due to lack of interesting content. And if we are watching tv it's a compilation of diverse networks with FRESH programming that usually appeals to us on some level beyond race.

1 comment:

Toni said...

why u had to ruin it for me mane? naw but dis article got me thinkin bout dis "centric" deal BUT, da commercial made me feel like dey were goin to be on dat "Neo-Soul" conscience hip hop 90's flava and like u said i wuz thinkn it should be "Afro-Centric" as well or sumn, but anyway enjoyed da article playa!!! Peace!!