EXECUTIVE SESSION WITH RYAN GLOVER

Bounce Set To Jump Into The Multicast Game

The new multicast channel aims to fill what its creators see as an unserved need: a movie-based service targeting African-Americans between the ages of 25 and 54. Coming off last week’s announcement that it has the Raycom stations on board in 26 markets, co-EVP Ryan Glover talks about Bounce TV’s goals and strategies, including why it opted to go broadcast rather than cable.

Why didn’t someone think of this before — a multicast channel aimed at the 14 million African-Americans that would complement, if not compete with, the black-oriented cable networks like BET and TV One?

Well, someone actually did. Two years ago, BET founder and billionaire entrepreneur Bob Johnson and Ion Media proposed Urban Television, which would piggyback on Ion’s long string of stations.

But nothing came of Urban Television, so the field was left wide open — until last month when Bounce TV announced itself.

Based in Atlanta, Bounce is promising a movie-based service this fall targeting African-Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 — that is, an older audience than the 30-year-old BET continues to vigorously pursue.

Lending credibility to the enterprise is an ownership team that includes former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young and Martin Luther King III and the news, just last week, that Raycom Media had signed on an a charter affiliate and would carry the diginet in 26 markets at launch.

In making its bow last month, Bounce said it had already cut deals for movies and TV series with leading programs suppliers like NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Television, Image Entertainment, Codeblack Entertainment and Rainforest Films. Among other things, those deals give Bounce access to nearly 400 films with special appeal to African Americans.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

Bounce is also promising religious programming, documentaries and sports. So far, sports means a deal with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, one of several leagues featuring historically black colleges and universities.

To run the network, Bounce has assembled some experience hands, Rob Hardy and Will Packer, co-founders of Rainforest Films, who serve as chief content officer and chief strategy and marketing officer, respectively. Jeffrey Wolf, the former EVP of U.S. syndication sales for Sony Pictures Television and now head of the Lobo Group, is leading the effort to build the affiliate lineup.

Leading the effort are part owners and co-executive vice presidents Ryan Glover and Jonathan Katz, both former Turner Broadcasting System executives.

In this interview with TVNewsCheck Editor Harry A. Jessell, Glover explains why the time if right for a network like Bounce and shares some of the plans for exploiting the opportunity.

An edited transcript:

How did this all come together?

I am great friends with Ambassador Andrew Young and Martin Luther King III and we have discussed a solution to serve the underserved [African-American] audience for a while. Prior to launching Bounce, I worked for Turner Broadcasting where I developed content specifically for their local TBS station, but that bled into programming the networks as well — TBS, TNT, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, mainly in the unscripted arena.

Where is the money coming from, especially to sustain you through the lean early years?

We are not disclosing that information at this moment. But we are 100% fully funded and we will launch in the fall of this year.

Do you have a date for that launch?

We have a tentative date, but we’re not ready to announce it to the world.

In putting this network together, you must have talked about the relative advantages of going broadcast versus cable. Why broadcast?

We started with the consumer. Research consistently shows that African-Americans rank movies as their favorite entertainment programming, so it was logical to build an over-the-air, movie-based network, one that everyone can see and not just for those who can pay for TV.

Filling this unmet consumer need also makes good business sense for our station partners. Smart broadcasters are using spectrum to grow their local brands in new and profitable ways. Bounce TV’s differentiated content enables them to deliver an audience segment to advertisers that would be difficult to connect with any other way.

What does Bounce know about reaching the older demo that, say, TV One doesn’t?

Again, this is about the consumer, not the competition. We believe there’s a gap in the marketplace for an African-American movie-based network and that Bounce TV will fill that need.

You just announced your first affiliation deal and it was a big one, with Raycom in 26 markets. What are your goals in terms of distribution?

Upon launch, we plan on being in 50% of the U.S. television households, which equates to approximately 58 million homes. The Raycom agreement is a tremendous start. Our Raycom affiliates represent, I would say, roughly 11% of television homes and close to 20% of African-American households. Our goal, at the end of the day, is to be at 80% of the total U.S.

You’re interested in homes other than African-American?

Absolutely. We plan on creating a great programming service that’s obviously targeted to the African-American consumer, but so well rounded that everybody will watch.

What’s the basic deal for broadcasters?

It’s an inventory split. There’s 13 minutes an hour that’s split down the middle.

To affiliate with Bounce, does a station have to get carriage on the local cable systems?

No. But, at the same time, in competitive situations in individual markets, stations that have cable coverage will have an advantage to carry Bounce over those who don’t.

Other than the inventory split, are you offering any other inducements for stations to aligned themselves with you?

No.

When can we expect further affiliation announcements?

Very soon. We are seeing strong demand for Bounce TV and we’re in active and overwhelmingly positive conversations with station groups. You can expect announcements on more carriage agreements shortly.

Your sports play right now is the CIAA, Division II. Any chance of getting Division I sports?

Having gone to Howard University, I have a fondness for the HBCU [historically black colleges and universities] athletic landscape.  So we’re starting in the CIAA and then looking at making deals with the SIAC [Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference] and the SWAC [Southwestern Athletic Conference]. That’s our directive.

We are also looking to televise in the upcoming year or so boxing. We are not starting the network heavy on the original side, but we will move in that direction as the network grows.

I understand that there are opportunities for stations to insert local content. How would that work?

We passionately believe local branding and local content accelerates success, so we’re encouraging our partners to encore key newscasts and telecast local sports and special events on their Bounce channels.

Bounce will also provide turnkey promotional resources to help our partners identify the network with their local markets. Our goal is to have consumers think “Bounce Chicago” or “Bounce Pittsburgh,” not just “Bounce TV.”

Aren’t you a little late to the game there? There has to be at least a dozen other multicast channels vying for this space on TV channels and some of them have been in the market for years.

We don’t think we’re late to the game. We think that we are targeting a very desperately underserved audience that hasn’t been addressed in the last 12 or 13 years and we are here to serve it now.

Why that peculiar name, by the way: Bounce TV?

Yeah. It’s funny you ask that. I don’t want to date myself, but growing up in the 1970s we used to say, hey, we’re going to bounce here or bounce there. It’s a way of saying we are going somewhere with energy.


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