Well... it actually went live last night, Wednesday, June 27th at 8PM, with inaugural distribution partners Comcast and Time Warner Cable, available in approximately seven million homes and in 16 of the top 25 African American markets including New York City, Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, DC.
So check with your local cable TV provider if you're a customer of either of the above 2. You just may have ASPiRE and not know it.
The new television network from Magic Johnson Enterprises promises an "entertaining and inspiring mix of original and groundbreaking programming," with the likes of Laurence Fishburne, Omari Hardwick, Esperanza Spalding and Jonathan Slocumb hosting primetime series blocks focused on movies, comedy, original series, and music.
From the press release, the new network’s initial schedule will feature the following programming blocks:
- Groundbreaking Movies (Thursdays, 8 p.m.) – Renowned actor Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Boyz ‘n the Hood) will guide viewers through the background, cultural relevance and historical significance of each night’s selection. Currently scheduled films include Shaft, Rosewood, Bird, Sarafina!, Bustin’ Loose, The Defiant Ones and Lilies of the Field.
- Groundbreaking Comedies (Tuesdays, 2 p.m., 8 p.m. & 11 pm) – Hosted by actor and comedian Jonathan Slocumb (Meet the Browns, “The Steve Harvey Show”), ASPiRE’s Groundbreaking Comedies will celebrate trailblazing Black funnymen and women with iconic TV series including “The Bill Cosby Show” (Chet Kincaid), “The Flip Wilson Show” and more. Slocumb will share with audiences the known and not-so-known facts about the shows, their stars, and their enduring influence on popular culture. Groundbreaking and original standup comedy performances will also be featured.
- Groundbreaking Music and Performance Specials (Fridays, 8 p.m.) –Hosted by one of the biggest breakout stars of 2011, Grammy Award®-winning jazz bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding (Chamber Music Society, Radio Music Society), this unique night of programming will present musical performances by pioneering and influential artists from every generation and genre. ASPiRE will also present examples of African-American theater, dance and visual arts, offering viewers a chance to enjoy the wide spectrum of talent in the African-American creative community. Programming will include “Jazz Giants of the 20th Century,” “Make It Funky!” and “Earth, Wind & Fire in Concert” to name a few.
- “ABFF Independent” (Mondays, 8 p.m.) – This weekly two-hour original show, hosted by actor Omari Hardwick (Sparkle, I Will Follow), will present the best shorts and feature films from emerging African-American writers, producers and directors, selected from the American Black Film Festival (ABFF).
- Groundbreaking Documentaries (Wednesdays, 8 p.m.) – Fascinating films chronicling the real-life events, people and places that shaped the course of African-American history and culture, currently scheduled documentaries include Academy Award® winner When We Were Kings, Rising from the Rails: The Story of the Pullman Porter and Oscar’s Black Odyssey: From Hattie to Halle, among others.
- “I ASPiRE” Featurettes – These 30- and 60-second shorts offer intimate profiles of and by the next generation of groundbreakers and game changers across African-American culture. The short films feature a dynamic selection of creative talent including concert pianist Jade Simmons from Houston, painter Matthew Thomas from Memphis and surfer Marcos Chatman from Los Angeles.
“It has been a long-held dream of mine to launch a television network that offers viewers inspiring and positive portrayals of African-American lifestyles, accomplishments and talent, while also creating opportunities for the next generation of artists and storytellers,” said ASPiRE Chairman and CEO Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
ASPiRE was selected by Comcast from among over 100 candidates as one of four new minority-owned independent networks, and expectations are that the new network will be available in over 12 million homes by the end of 2012 and in 20 to 30 million homes by the end of 2013.'
Original Content. Original Content. Original Content. It's a good time to be a content creator I'd say; although let's see how open all these new networks are, and how diverse their programming eventually becomes.
Check out the website HERE.
And watch Magic Johnson's preview of the network below: