By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act April 8, 2014 at 4:23PM
Formerly known as BET on Jazz, BET Jazz, and BET J, and launched in September 1996, Centric is a spin-off cable television channel of BET, created originally to showcase jazz music-related programming, highlighting black jazz artists.
It's evolved over the years, eventually being rebranded by BET as Centric, in 2009, into what has essentially become a general interest channel targeted at African American adult audiences (compared to BET's targeted younger viewers - although that seems to be changing), with programming comprised primarily of music appreciation from across the Diaspora, as well as unscripted content and lots of old black TV shows like 227, The Cosby Show, The Jamie Foxx Show and many more.
And now it looks like Centric is being rebranded yet again by BET - this time as a black woman-focused network, starting with the pickup of the canceled VH1 drama series Single Ladies, as was announced this morning.
But don't take my word for it strictly; read the press release from the network below, where it states that it's growing into a premiere destination for African American women - a crown that I think Oprah Winfrey's OWN will argue belongs to them, given its announcement of what was its most-watched quarter in network history, delivering double-digit growth across all demos versus the previous quarter, including +47% African American Women 25-54, the fastest growing cable network for W25-54, and was the #1 cable network on Tuesday and Wednesday nights last quarter for African American women in 2014 (the battle for the African American woman's attention is underway. Read my piece on that matter HERE).
LOS ANGELES and NEW YORK – April 8, 2014 – Centric, BET Networks’ 24-hour music and entertainment network, today unveiled an exclusive co-production deal with Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment to produce new content for the network. The production company, owned by Queen Latifah and her partner Shakim Compere, has quickly established itself, with #1 hits including The Perfect Holiday, Beauty Shop, Bringing Down The House and its first ever scripted romantic comedy “Let’s Stay Together,” which premiered with 4.4 million viewers on BET.
Centric’s slate of programming has a particular appeal to the African American woman. This new partnership strengthens Centric’s position as the network for the African American woman.
Flavor Unit Entertainment’s #1 new talk show, The Queen Latifah Show will also begin airing in primetime on Centric. The Queen Latifah Show is a daytime, talk-variety series that showcases Queen Latifah’s extraordinary range of talents as a global entertainment icon featuring chart-topping musical guests, celebrity interviews and everyday heroes who are changing lives in their local communities. The Queen Latifah Show is produced by Flavor Unit, Overbrook Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television.
“We are thrilled to be working once again with Flavor Unit Entertainment and Queen Latifah. She does it all and we are happy to have her join us as a creative force as we continue to grow Centric into a premiere destination for African American women. We couldn’t be more excited about what’s ahead,” said Debra L. Lee, BET Networks Chairman and CEO.
As part of the deal, BET Networks will develop and premiere an all-new Season 4 of the highly rated Single Ladies on Centric. This modern, romantic comedy series is set in the world of Atlanta fashion, music, and celebrity as best friends share their differing views on love, sex and relationships. Single Ladies asks the question: what do women really want?
“At more than 10 million strong, and in control of 20 billion dollars in buying power, the African American woman is an increasingly powerful, yet often overlooked consumer. No other network has embraced her with content designed specifically for her – until now,” said Louis Carr, BET Networks President of Broadcast and Media Sales. “Centric is the first network to deliver the programming that celebrates, inspires and addresses her unique perspective.”
Centric’s popularity with African American audiences, most notably with African American women ages 25 to 54, continues to grow, with the network marking its most watched quarter in its history. For FY14 Q2 (Jan-Mar), Centric experienced its best quarter ever for Total Day and Primetime viewership, posting gains of +20 percent.
Centric announced the following programming at the BET Networks’ Upfront presentation in Los Angeles:
NEW PROGRAMMING ON CENTRIC:
• SINGLE LADIES: SEASON 4 – This modern, romantic comedy series is set in the world of Atlanta fashion, music, and celebrity where friends share differing views on love, sex and relationships.
RETURNING PROGRAMMING ON CENTRIC:
• BEING – “Being” is a documentary series highlighting music and entertainment's most dynamic figures – and a place where the stars tell their own stories, in their own words. Featuring never before seen photos, videos, and revealing interviews, “Being” delivers a compelling inside look at the inspiring lives of the biggest names in music, media and more.
• ACCORDING TO HIM & HER – “According to Him & Her” approaches timely topics involving relationships, friendships, dating and sex in a “he said, she said” battle of the sexes. Every week an onslaught of comedians, relationship experts and surprise celebrities will engage in a series of questions resulting in a no-holds-barred banter giving audiences the opportunity to finally see how the other sex thinks from a comedic perspective.
RETURNING MEGA-SPECIALS ON CENTRIC:
• SOUL TRAIN AWARDS – The Hippest Trip In America keeps grooving forward. The iconic brand that defined a generation returns for 2014 with its signature awards show. Featuring never before-seen musical collaborations and powerful tributes from world-class performers, the Soul Train Awards brings you the most revered and promising voices in soul and R&B. The Soul Train Awards is simulcast on Centric and BET.
• CENTRIC COMEDY ALL-STARS – Bill Bellamy will host the third annual comedy event, honoring an industry icon. Some of the top names in comedy, plus the hottest comedians on the rise will make appearances during the show that is sure to keep you laughing.