The first 24-hour sports, “edutainment” and lifestyle network dedicated to historically black colleges and universities is on the horizon.
C3 Media, LLC, the holding company that owns and operates the network, announced Tuesday at a news conference in New York that the HBCU Network will launch in 2011.
The network, based in Atlanta, is designed to fill a void in the cable industry, which has, for years, underserved the black community. The channel will be the official destination of the four major HBCU Conferences — the MEAC, SWAC, SIAC and CIAA – and will feature Division I and Division II black college sports events as the centerpiece of its programming.
The network will also offer a full complement of education and entertainment – “edutainment” – as well as lifestyle programming, some of which will be produced by HBCUs.
“Sports programming will be the anchor,” HBCU Network CEO Curtis Symonds says. “We’ll do about 28 percent sports. The majority of it will be live sports. We’ll also do lifestyle and entertainment-type programming. But what’s going to be the selling point is certainly black college sports.”
Symonds has an extensive background in the cable industry, largely in marketing and sales. He was executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing for BET Holdings, Inc. from 1988 to 2001. Before that, he spent five years in ESPN’s Chicago office. He began as ESPN’s local advertising sales consultant and within a year was promoted to director of affiliate marketing for the mid-west. In addition, Symonds was COO of the Washington Mystics WNBA Basketball franchise.
Symonds is a product of an HBCU, having graduated from Central State University in Ohio.