Four new minority-owned and operated channels from Comcast will launch in the North American MSO's basic tier with initial exposure to 8 million subscribers, according to reports.
Previously announced Hispanic networks El Rey Network and Baby First America, and African-American oriented Aspire and Revolt, are part of Comcast's diversity obligations that it agreed to as a condition of the merger with NBCUniversal. They are slated to launch starting in April and rolling through the begiinning of 2014. In all, the No. 1 MSO is bound to launch eight Hispanic- and Black-owned channels within the next eight years. The question has been lingering, however, as to what extent they will be able to secure enough of a ratings base to be viable in the long term, should they be relegated to outlying tiers of service at the MSO.
David Cohen, Comcast's executive vice president, told Multichannel News that the channels are being given "fair" carriage rates, and he acknowledged that Comcast was doing its best to give the fledgling networks the kind of exposure they need to gain a spot on other pay-TV operators' lineups.
"We understand that none of these networks will be successful if they only are carried on Comcast," he noted.
Sources close to the networks confirmed to the news outlet that they would indeed be carrier on the basic tier.