Classic motion pictures like Mahogany and In the Heat of the Night are just a taste of the programming that a newly launched African American, 24/7 digital multicast television network called “Dream TV” is rolling out to its potential reach of 18,000,000 subscribers.
Network principals say it is the first network to specifically target African Americans with “traditional and alternative tastes.”
“The network was born out an underserved market in the African American community. It highlights traditional African American content such as the classics we all love, but we also offer nontraditional TV shows and films that may not have Black casts, but we nonetheless grew up watching them, such as The Incredible Hulk, for instance. We have Sci-fi and horror programming and also travel,” Chester Jones III, CEO and Founder of The Dream Network, told TNJ.com in an exclusive interview.
He continues, ”Traditionally, when you think of an African American channel, you think of the same types of shows we’re used to seeing – good, solid comedies and dramas. But as a people, we like a whole range of different genres. We love seeing ourselves on screen, but we also watch other groups of people. We are centered on shows that African Americans love to watch, but that eclectic mix is what The Dream Network is all about.
Emphasis on the word eclectic.
“Part of our mantra is that our target market may come from the ‘hood, but we also have passports; we might like graffiti but we also like Picasso and abstract art; we might like sports and play basketball, but maybe we ride our skateboard to the courts,” Jones explains.
Geared towards an audience primarily between the ages of 25-54, the network is available nationwide via over the air (OTA) distribution, Roku TV (Eye on Media, New Beginnings and Movee4u), and internet streaming which allows the network to be accessed anytime, anywhere via any mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer via iPhone TV and iPadtv apps.
Says Jones, “These days, technology offers so many options. We made the network very accessible because African Americans are the largest demographic of television watchers. In serving our community, we wanted to be sure that everyone could access the network – even if some people don’t have cable subscriptions in their homes.”
Launched in late November 2015, Dream TV can also be seen in China on the Lulu channel. A Chinese version of Hulu, Lulu, says Jones, is already programmed in the menus some of the Smart TVs there. And next month, Dream TV will be on Direct TV as well as other affiliates.
Recently, the network signed a deal with WPHR-TV33 in Detroit, Michigan to launch on Comcast channel 91, and their digital sub-channel 33.4. Dream TV is also currently broadcasting to the Florence/Decatur, AL area on WBCG 39.4/WXFL 10, and will have their debut on WBQP in Pensacola, FL on Channel 18 next month.
That was the easy part. Funding was the hard part.
“When you’re starting to build something, there’s always funding and content challenges. Once we figured out how we were going to differentiate ourselves, the challenge was how are we going to fill this space and finance it? And we’re still working through some of these challenges. At the outset, it felt like a mountain but it’s a mountain that’s getting smaller and smaller,” shares Jones.