AspireTV Docuseries Takes Viewers Inside the HBCU Marching Band Experience

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Marching band traditions are central to the experience and culture of many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). They hit a sweet spot for a wide swath of people -- band members, their families, athletic teams and their fans, as well as faculty, administration and the student body in general. AspireTV, a network that celebrates and reflects Black culture and urban lifestyle, is bringing viewers right into the heart of the HBCU marching band world with a new six-episode docuseries. 6 Minutes to Glory: The HBCU Band Experience features a half-dozen bands as they prepare to compete in the HBCU All-Star Battle of the Bands event in Atlanta.

"One of the big pillars of our programming strategy has always been the HBCU experience," explained Ty Johnson, Vice President, National Ad Sales Southeast Region, Branded Content + Multicultural Strategy & Development for aspireTV.

AspireTV has ranked No. 1 in affinity among all lifestyle networks -- including both general market and African American networks -- according to Johnson, citing data from the 2022 Aspire Black Culture & Lifestyle TV Study. The network's programming revolves around five key lifestyle verticals -- eat, live, shop, play and dream. The marching band series fits right into that. "We've had Black college sports and lifestyle content on the network since its inception," he said.

One of the inspirations behind 6 Minutes to Glory was the success of the network's 2017 series 'Bama State Style, which focused on the Alabama State University experience -- and as part of that its renowned marching band, the Mighty Marching Hornets.

What's more, HBCU band content is on a par in popularity with aspireTV's live sports coverage of college football and basketball. "From a lifestyle standpoint, we saw an opportunity to bring more of that content to an audience that desired it," Johnson noted.

Johnson and his team thought it would be great to produce a docuseries around the bands that have been invited to participate in the battle and let them tell their story as they prepare for the competition. "We could then capture them at the live event itself, where all of the excitement and emotion would come full circle," he explained. "That's how 6 Minutes to Glory evolved."

It only made sense for aspireTV to partner with the producers of the HBCU All-Star Battle of the Bands live event, set to return for the first time post-COVID on February 4 in Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The six minutes in the title, by the way, refers to the minimum average length of time that most HBCU marching bands have to perform their routine in a typical halftime show -- or in a national showcase like the Battle of the Bands.

Johnson, a former college athlete whose parents were both HBCU grads, grew up in a household steeped in HBCU culture. Although he was familiar with longstanding HBCU band traditions, he learned a thing or two from the docuseries. "The history and legacy of each band really comes through in this series, which I believe will inform and engage the audience in ways it hasn't before," he said.

6 Minutes to Glory: The HBCU Band Experience is supported by Publicis Media's APX Content Ventures Inclusion Investment Fund. Launched in 2021, the fund assists partners in creating programs that spotlight diverse voices and storylines. It's part of Publicis' Once & For All Coalition.

"A commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is a big part of who we are, and it's a big part of the agency community," Johnson said. "Publicis has done a tremendous job in that space. All of their agency operating companies have embraced that opportunity. Their APX Content Ventures Inclusion Investment Fund was really designed to amplify diverse voices and stories. So, when we were invited to share with them some of the programming we had in various stages of development, 6 Minutes to Gloryreally caught their attention." 6 Minutes to Gloryis one of two dedicated APX productions facilitated by aspireTV Studios, a purpose-driven DEI business development strategy at the network.

6 Minutes to Glory focuses on one marching band per episode and features the Marching Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman University; the Blue and Gold Marching Machine of North Carolina A&T; Tennessee State University's Aristocrat of Bands; the Spartan Legion Band of Norfolk State University; the Mighty Marching Hornets of Alabama State University, and the Marching 101 of South Carolina State University.

6 Minutes to Glory: The HBCU Band Experience is telecast Saturdays at 8 and 8:30 p.m. on aspireTV.

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