Allen Media Group’s digital news service theGrio is stepping up its efforts to serve black audiences looking for news and entertainment through its television networks, digital and podcast offerings.
The company that bought Byron Allen’s Allen Media in 2016 recently launched the Grio Black Podcast Network – which offers listeners access to Black Entertainment, culture and news – to go along with theGrio.tv’s digital network and news-based Grio website.
TheGrio’s senior vice president of news and entertainment recently spoke to Geraldine Moriba Multi-channel news Senior content producer, programming R. Thomas Omsted on the company’s strategy to serve black users on whatever platform the audience chooses. An edited version of this interview appears below.
Multi-channel news: How do you think theGrio brand is positioned in a very crowded TV market?
Geraldine Moriba: Our mission is to inform the black community wherever we consume information. We know that some people get their information from a website; some people get it from mobile apps; other people listen to podcasts. We index new technologies too much, so we want to keep up with that and be wherever we consume information. At the same time, we do not want to miss generations who are yet to visit the website, because this is our bread and butter, but we also want to reach new audiences who receive information from other platforms.
MCN: How does theGrio’s recent Black Podcast Network relate to its website and television distribution strategy?
GM: The black community is a big community and we are not all the same – we do not think the same, we do not behave the same and we do not all have the same beliefs. It definitely has something in common, but we are different people. The way we consume information and where we receive information also varies. There are people who get stories and information from podcasts – in fact, black Americans re-index into podcasts, according to Nielsen. We currently make up over 20% of all podcast listeners, which is practically twice as many as our population. People who listen to podcasts can also receive news from websites or a mobile app. Of course, there is some overlap, but people are creatures of habit, and we really want to try to inform people wherever they consume information. We strive to provide information and become a destination, but as a media company owned by blacks, it is also empowering.
MCN: In terms of television, what is theGrio’s strategy for attracting viewers?
GM: So on the television side we will still have some news, but the television side is more of a way of life and entertainment. This is a different medium and we recognize that people go on TV for different things. We don’t want to create a 24-hour news channel – that’s not our mission. We are currently creating shows that will have a news component, but most of the content will always be lifestyle, entertainment and movies. There are over 1,500 movies now available on theGrio’s OTT (over-the-top) and OTA (over-the-air) platforms.
MCN: You mentioned that theGrio.TV’s focus on television is not necessarily news, but at some point will the network seem to fill the void for news content aimed at black viewers created by the recent closure of The Black News Channel?
GM: It is a pity that the BNC closed – there were many talented people there and we need this information. We are absolutely trying to be number one in our competitive set and we are trying to expand the black culture. BNC was strictly news – we are definitely news, but also fun and a way of life. ■