Retired NBA player and business mogul Earvin “Magic” Johnson has teamed up with Comcast to launch his own 24-hour cable television network targeted at African-Americans.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Johnson’s “inspirational-themed” channel, Aspire, is scheduled to launch on June 30th and is just the first of an expected ten minority-targeted networks to be developed over the next decade.
Comcast is also working with Sean “Diddy” Combs on a music-based network called Revolt to be launched later this year, the WSJ added.
“I wanted a vehicle to show positive images and to have stories written, produced and directed by African Americans for our community. Aspire — that’s how I’ve been leading my life,” the 52-year-old former Lakers star told the LA Times.
The LA Times reports that Aspire will feature original shows, movies and documentaries and have a mix of comedies and music as well.
“African-Americans have choices, and now they have another one,” Johnson added, explaining that his goal was to create the next BET and open up opportunities for African-American actors, directors and producers.
With Aspire, Johnson becomes the second A-list celebrity to launch a network in the last two years.
Oprah Winfrey established OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network as a vehicle for her philosophy of inspiration and personal empowerment. But OWN has struggled ever since its January 2011 launch, failing to develop any shows or projects that have attracted large audiences.
Johnson is aware of the risks:
“We’ll learn from those who have gone before us. We understand the landscape, and we will run a sound business.”
In addition to his efforts in the launch of Aspire, Magic Johnson also recently bid to acquire BlackBook and its “Access Network,” and is working with equity partners who are bidding on the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball.