Bounce TV launches over broadcast spectrum

A new Atlanta-based network targeting African Americans, Bounce TV, will launch this fall using digital spectrum from broadcast groups throughout the nation. The company is majority owned and operated by African Americans, with Martin Luther King III and former United Nations ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young part of the initial ownership team. Bounce will most directly compete against Lanham, MD-based Radio One, which operates TV One, and New York-based Viacom, which owns BET and Centric.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Bounce has yet to secure any distribution agreements. Executives said they would spend the next few months acquiring digital spectrum from TV station groups across the country, preferably in markets with sizable black populations including Chicago, New York City and Atlanta.

Digital technology now allows broadcast networks to air multiple subchannels. So far, about a dozen specialized networks are using this noncable digital tier. Channel 2 WSB-TV airs the Retro TV Network on one of its subchannels, showing old shows such as “Adam-12″ and “Marcus Welby M.D.” Disney-ABC owns Live Well, which airs home, health and lifestyle shows. These channels can be seen for free without cable or satellite in particular markets, like traditional broadcast networks; Bounce will join that group. Cable and satellite subscribers, who represent nearly 90 percent of U.S. households, will be able to get Bounce only if the respective broadcast network can negotiate a deal.

“I am proud that our network will deliver free programming exclusively for our underserved community and be accessible to all homes around the country and not just those who pay for television,” said Andrew Young in a news release.

Getting coverage in enough markets to draw national advertisers will take time, said Chuck Larsen, president of Pacific Palisades, CA-based October Moon Television, a consulting firm for TV series producers.

“It sounds challenging, but it’s not impossible,” Larsen told the Atlanta newspaper.

Bounce, a 24/7 network, plans to target the 25-54 age demographic with a “mix of theatrical motion pictures, live sporting events, documentaries, specials, inspirational faith-based programs, off-net series and original programming.”

A variety of content has been licensed for distribution over the new network. It reportedly has signed multiyear content agreements with NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution for almost 200 films, Sony Pictures Television for almost 100 titles, Codeblack Entertainment for movies and documentaries, and Image Entertainment for more than 50 movies, documentaries and stage plays.

The network will air sports events through Urban Sports Entertainment Group for football and basketball games from the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The network will use the production and operational resources of Atlanta-based CSE, a sports, entertainment and TV production agency.