Is Netflix's latest move enough representation for Black media in streaming services?
Strong Black Lead
On July 29th, Netflix and its Strong Black Lead team announced they’ve acquired 7 classic Black sitcoms: Moesha, The Parkers, Girlfriends, The Game, Sister, Sister, One on One and Half & Half. Black folks quarantined around the country rejoiced. Other than it currently being a time of racial reckoning, people have been rallying to get more Black-led sitcoms on the streaming service for quite some time. Netflix went out of its way to keep Friends on their service, surely we could have a little more color as well. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that this deal lit up social media, especially when you consider the nostalgia-filled promotional video that dropped along with the reveal.
Time to pop bottles🍾🍾— Strong Black Lead (@strongblacklead) July 29, 2020
The following classic shows are coming to @Netflix (US)
Moesha - Aug 1
The Game S1-3 - Aug 15
Sister Sister - Sept 1
Girlfriends - Sept 11
The Parkers - Oct 1
Half & Half - Oct 15
One on One - Oct 15
To celebrate, here's a message from your faves: pic.twitter.com/zohNPEo0rz
There was fanfare throughout the community, and personally I am very excited to rewatch my favorite Toni Childs moments on Girlfriends. The queen of the side eye.
Amidst all this fanfare however, there was a conversation that caught my eye. What about the Black-owned TV stations that already have this content available on streaming as well? Should we fight for representation in the mainstream or should we build our own table?
Aspire TV is one of the only eleven Black-owned television channels that exist. This list includes BOUNCE TV, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), TV One, Revolt TV, The Impact Network, and more. Only one of these channels, OWN, is a semi-household name.
One of the challenges to every television channel in this digital era is streaming and on-demand content. But many have been able to survive by offering titles available on demand on their websites as long as you sign in with a cable provider, and partnering with sites like Hulu and Netflix of course to have their content on streaming. The problem Black-owned channels have is that increasingly their niche audience is ditching their cable subscription and streaming sites like Hulu and Netflix are their competitors.
Some are providing a solution like ASPIRE Tv by partnering with an online cable company, like Philo. At $20 dollars a month for 61 channels, including ASPIRE and BET, it’s a pretty nice deal. Others are partnering with Black owned streaming services.
With the continual conversation over Black representation in media, one thing is clear: both mainstream representation and ownership are extremely important. We also need to do more to make ownership as popular as inclusion is. But in the meantime, I’m celebrating all we have built in the entertainment industry thus far and marking my calendar for September 11th, when Girlfriends drops on Netflix!
As Twitter buzzes about Moesha’s boyfriend’s, Frank’s hotheadedness, and the heavy handed fat jokes directed at Countess Vaughn’s character Kim, Brandy Norwood revealed that she is working behind the scenes for a reboot! Are you down for a Moesha revival? Let us know in the comments.
Happy 14th annual National Black Business Month! – Cultural Exchange Team