New African American/Latino Content Projects Take Center Stage at MAGNA's Equity Upfront

By Upfronts/NewFronts Archives
Cover image for  article: New African American/Latino Content Projects Take Center Stage at MAGNA's Equity Upfront

The final two days of leading global ad agency MAGNA's 2023 Equity Upfront last week focused more on what's coming the rest of this year and beyond from current and new TV ventures managed by entrepreneurs of color than we heard during day one. At the same time, MAGNA executives continued their drive for increased financial support of enterprises that reach out to underrepresented audiences. Day two originated in-person from New World Stages in midtown Manhattan, while the closing day consisted of all virtual presentations.

The Big Message: Look for a big leap in the amount of programming -- sports and non-sports alike -- this coming season from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), available to the public through broadcast stations and smart TV distribution. This is another rationale for increased ad spending and year-round partnerships from a larger base of companies, noted Kathy Doyle, MAGNA's Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Local Investments. "Just maybe," she mused, "our actions can make the world a better place."

Host:Just like day one, MAGNA executives delivered opening remarks at the start of these all-day agendas, then turned things over to the presenting companies.

What Worked:A greater number of presenting organizations willing to share key details about what's in their 2023-24 content pipelines than on day one (see my previous report). In some cases, a generous helping of video clips from those series and specials accompanied the pitch.

What Also Worked:A post-lunch session on day two from diversity-centric ad rep firm NuTime Media with Sherri Shepherd, former co-host of The View and current host of her own daytime syndicated talk/variety hour Sherri (just given a two-season renewal by syndicator Debmar-Mercury). Illuminating discussion about Shepherd's road to her own show and how she makes it an appealing showcase of diversity on TV.

What Didn't Work: Ozy Media's morning session on day two. Up first and in a prime environment to detail its future course (including TV plans), Ozy and Founder/Chief Executive Carlos Watson turned their platform into an extended in-person edition of Watson's popular YouTube talk show. Disappointing affair.

Data Points:A few stats from Canela Media's day two presentation: 75 percent of Latinos living in the U.S. are bilingual. Among viewers of Canela's group of TV services, 73 percent do not watch Univision, 72 percent do not watch parent TelevisaUnivision's megacontent services Vix/Vix+ and more than 70 percent do not watch Telemundo. Separately, ad sales at The Africa Channel last year doubled from 2021, with five times more brands buying commercial time there year-over-year.

News: The leap in content featuring HBCU activities on TV this summer and set for the 2023-24 season will come from new programming from Urban Edge Networks' HBCU League Pass+ and new player Black College Sports Broadcasting Network (BCSBN). Both organizations will follow increased HBCU event coverage at Allen Media Group, which was announced on day one. HBCU League Pass+ will offer a wider variety of male and female student sports in its package and may offer coverage of Juneteenth commemorations from Houston. BCSBN, now syndicating basketball games from HBCU conferences among TV stations, will present Saturday afternoon and evening college football matchups this fall. In an unrelated development, Hearst Media Productions will co-develop and produce series on a regular basis with independent outlet Sunwise Media, already collaborating with Hearst on The Harlem Globetrotters Saturday morning series that began on NBC last fall. On their own for 2023-24, Sunwise will produce a home renovation series for Oprah Winfrey Network, a pair of hybrid scripted/unscripted made-for films coming to Aspire TV, and a weekly syndicated adaptation of the popular Money Moves podcast. At The Africa Channel (making its presentation on day three), expect new unscripted series African Royale, World Wide Nate: African Adventures and Amah Knows Best, plus U.S. premieres of scripted attractions Housewives, Flower Girl and Lemonade. Canela Media's slate of upcoming originals includes Superella, an animated series for Canela Kids that spotlights trailblazing Latino citizens in various professions.

Parting Words:

"We're making the impossible possible while challenging the status quo, the biggest players in our industry. We have big ambitions and we're disrupting." -- Canela Media President and Chief Executive Officer Isabel Rafferty

"We think we're special, and we have a right to tell our own story. It's about these kids and the values they bring to the community. We're asking you for that opportunity. This is a civil rights movement." -- Urban Edge Networks Co-Founder Todd Brown

"What some in the media sector fail to realize is that Black audiences are not a monolith. I'm Chinese-Jamaican and the daughter of immigrant parents to the U.S. Being Black and Asian makes me a living example of the wide diversity of today's Black American audience." -- Paula Madison, The Africa Channel's principal owner

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