With More Black Stars on TV Than Ever, Where Do Bet, Own, and Other Black Networks Fit In?

African Americans love TV. According to Nielsen, it’s a demographic that watches 37 percent more television than any other. And the TV industry has taken note: Of the nearly 500 scripted series across broadcast, cable, and streaming, at least 60 are headlined by black actors. However, most of them don’t appear on Bet, Own: The Oprah Winfrey Network, Bounce TV, or TV One: 70 percent of the black-headlined shows run on other networks and streamers. All of which begs the question: As networks with significantly deeper pockets aggressively pursue the African-American audience, do black TV networks risk losing relevance?

Bet head of programming Connie Orlando isn’t concerned by the competition. “Across TV, Svod, and film, Hollywood is waking up to the excellence of black creators and the power of black audiences, something we have done for the past 40 years,” she said. “African Americans are not monolithic. There’s room for
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