What Will Comcast’s New Multicultural Networks Be?


Nearly six years ago, Comcast was granted FCC approval for its acquisition of a controlling interest in NBC Universal, and the Department of Justice seconded shortly thereafter.

The FCC vote was 4-1, and the conditions included the addition of 10 independently owned networks to Comcast Cable systems by 2019. Eight of these new networks were to be minority-owned.

Comcast is now accepting proposals for the final two minority-owned networks it has committed to, and the pair of networks will be offerings from “substantially African American owned, independent networks.”

These latest networks will launch “in select Comcast markets” by January 2019.

The public interest commitments, stipulated in the FCC’s deal approval from January 2011, have seen the launch by Comcast of 20 independent networks, doubling the number of independent network launches that it committed to as part of the transaction.

Four of those networks were launched as a result of a public request for channels that satisfied the criteria established in bringing diversity to Comcast lineups in major multicultural DMAs: ASPiRE and REVOLT, two African American majority-owned networks; and the Hispanic-operated networks Baby First Americas and El Rey Network, a creation of cult filmmaker Robert Rodriguez that launched at the end of 2013.

Set for launch in January are two Hispanic-owned networks, Kids Central and Primo TV.

“We are looking forward to receiving another round of great proposals as we begin the process to launch two more African American majority-owned networks,” said Justin Smith, SVP/Content Acquisition for Comcast Cable.

Criteria for selecting the next two substantially African American-owned networks that Comcast will launch includes the following:

  • the content of the network
  • whether the network is fully financed
  • whether the network’s ownership and/or management group(s) are well established, have relevant experience, and are substantially owned by African Americans
  • whether the network is already launched and has existing or potential multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) distribution
  • price
  • whether the network and its potential carriage provide value to Comcast and its customers.

Comcast will accept proposals for every major genre, including general entertainment, movies, music, kids, news, and sports.

Applicants may visit http://corporate.comcast.com/diverseprogramming to submit a proposal and learn about the terms and conditions.

Proposals are due by March 15, 2017, and the two networks will be selected in the coming months.