Robert L. Johnson, the businessman known for founding BET, created UMC (short for Urban Movie Channel) in 2014. Johnson’s RLJ Entertainment, which also had streaming assets like Acorn TV, was acquired by AMC Networks in 2018.
“UMC began as a distribution model for Black creatives to directly reach the then largely underserved African-American audience without the restrictions of legacy content development and traditional broadcast models,” Johnson said in a statement. “As technology advances and programming demands from our community evolve, the rebranded ALLBLK will be well positioned to breakout as the preeminent streaming destination for viewers seeking Black entertainment.”
Upcoming originals in the ALLBLK pipeline include Millennials, Lace, My Mane Problem, MC Lyte sitcom Partners In Rhyme and Datari Turner/eOne reality series Notorious Queens. Continuing tentpoles include Double Cross, A House Divided and Craig Ross Jr.’s Monogamy. It has set a co-production with WE tv, Beyond the Pole, as well as new releases like A Closer Look, For the Love of Jason, and Terror Lake Drive.
The $5-a-month service has seen triple-digit growth and is one of the pillars of AMC Networks’ niche streaming strategy. The company’s portfolio also includes horror and genre service Shudder, British specialist Acorn and indie mainstay Sundance Now. Last month, AMC Networks said it expects to have at least 5.5 million total streaming subscribers by the end of 2020.
AMC Networks’ SVOD president Miguel Penella said the ALLBLK rebrand “speaks to the need for curated entertainment experiences immersed in authenticity and targeted to the viewing interest of Black Americans, specifically the Black female audience.”
Dismuke, who joined UMC as its content chief in January 2019, said the service will continue its “commitment to providing a home for Black creatives in front of and behind the camera to find opportunity and tell captivating stories. As we enter a new era of diversity and reflection in the entertainment industry, we’re excited for audiences to experience what will soon be ALLBLK.”