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BET founder launches Urban Movie Channel

Robert L. Johnson’s RLJ Entertainment will launch a new African American-skewing digital service, Urban Movie Channel, which will be programmed with drama, docs, comedy and horror programming.

The streaming service will sit alongside Acorn TV, the British-skewed online US service that has Agatha Christie and other UK and English-language drama.

RLJ will utilise its existing catalogue, which includes the Image indie film library and titles previously released by the company under the One Village brand.

UMC will be offered on free trial until February 2015 when RLJ will introduce a RLJ plans a limited introductory price of US$2.99 a month and US$29.99 a year. Once that promo period lapses, a US$4.99 a month, or US$49.99 a year, fee will be introduced.

Johnson, the founder of BET, now owned by Viacom, said: “As founder of BET, I have gained a deep understanding and knowledge about the African American and urban consumer and the entertainment content that appeals to them. UMC was designed so that the African American and urban creative community could directly reach consumers in a way that removes many of the restrictions associated with the legacy content development and distribution models.”

Launch titles include stand-up shows from Kevin Hart and Jamie Foxx, and docs including Dark Girls and I Ain’t Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac, The film line-up includes All Things Fall Apart starring 50 Cent and The Suspect starring Mekhi Phifer.

He added: “We believe that we can quickly become the preeminent provider of quality urban entertainment to what has largely been an underserved, yet highly engaged audience.  I am convinced that urban consumers will gravitate to the economic and entertainment value proposition of UMC and that the creative community will embrace UMC.”