RLJ Entertainment, Inc., created by Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) and The RLJ Companies and Chairman of RLJ Entertainment, today announced the launch of UMC – Urban Movie Channel (“UMC”), RLJE’s proprietary digital channel. UMC will feature urban-themed movies as an alternative to conventional subscription-based channels by showcasing the best drama, documentaries, comedies, horror, and stage plays.
Commenting on UMC’s launch, Robert Johnson 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. As more video is consumed over broadband, 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 as the best way to reach their loyal fans and benefit financially from showcasing their outstanding work product.”
Programs previously released by RLJE under the One Village brand will be incorporated into UMC’s library, which will also include titles from RLJE’s existing Image independent feature film line. UMC will launch with a free trial period for subscribers through February 4, 2015 and with a suggested retail price of $4.99/month or $49.99/year thereafter, but with a special limited time introductory pricing of $2.99/month or $29.99/year to start.
Miguel Penella, CEO of RLJE stated, “As one of the largest independent distributors of entertainment content with nascent propriety streaming channels like Acorn TV, we are uniquely positioned to fulfill the vision of our chairman and deliver to the urban audience an unprecedented library of high quality video content. We are confident in RLJE’s ability to acquire, distribute, and monetize existing and original content that will appeal to the urban community across the growing number of distribution platforms.”
Among the titles launching are live stand-up performances featuring Kevin Hart, Jamie Foxx, and Charlie Murphy; documentaries Dark Girls and I Ain’t Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac; the feature films All Things Fall Apart starring 50 Cent, Mario Van Peebles, and Ray Liotta; and The Suspect starring Mekhi Phifer. Bestsellers include the stage play production of What My Husband Doesn’t Know by David E. Talbert. UMC can be found at: www.urbanmoviechannel.com.
Traci Otey Blunt joins RLJE as Corporate Executive Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Affairs and will oversee the company’s marketing, public relations and investor relations, as well as the promotion of the UMC channel. For the last six years, Traci served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs at The RLJ Companies, the holding company which formed RLJ Entertainment. Prior to RLJ, Traci served as a national deputy communications director and director of African American media for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential campaign.
“Traci has been with The RLJ Companies since 2008 and has been responsible for all corporate communications, public relations and government affairs,” said Johnson. “She has proven to be an invaluable executive in promoting and executing the business goals and objectives of The RLJ Companies and its portfolio companies, and I believe appointing her to RLJE as Corporate EVP to perform these functions, as well as focus heavily on the marketing and promotion of UMC is an ideal fit.”
“I am confident that with Traci joining the RLJE management team, her expertise will be beneficial to the company as a whole and help our strategic launch of UMC,” said Penella. “She will promote the channel and grow its subscriber base by building new and cultivating existing relationships which will ultimately have a strong impact on RLJE’s digital platforms,” he concluded.
RLJ Entertainment is a leading creator, owner and distributor of media content across digital, broadcast and physical platforms. The Company leverages its branding expertise, access to content and direct to consumer skills to optimize the value of its programs for distinct audiences.
RLJ Entertainment is focused on driving growth through the development of interest-based entertainment services for targeted audiences in niche genres including British television, urban, action/thriller, horror, comedy, and fitness, by using new technologies to deliver that content to consumers.