Updated 11:00pm with cable/satellite info -- SYRACUSE -- The first-ever broadcast television network geared toward African-American audiences will arrive in Syracuse soon. WSYR-TV is adding a third channel to its digital signal to make room for "Bounce TV," starting January 1.
An announcement from NewsChannel 9 says the new network will be offered on digital subchannel 9.3. Viewers who watch TV over-the-air with an antenna will need to have their digital TVs or set-top tuner boxes "re-scan" the airwaves to find the new channel once it launches.
Networks like BET and TV One have focused on serving African-American viewers for years, but both channels require a subscription to cable or satellite service. By contrast, Bounce TV prides itself on being the first broadcast television network catering to African-Americans -- available for free, over-the-air.
A press release from NewsChannel 9 says Bounce TV offers "a programming mix of theatrical motion pictures, live sporting events, documentaries, specials, inspirational faith-based programs, off-net series, original programming and more." Some specific examples from the press release:
Bounce TV will feature hundreds of motion pictures with African American leads or story lines, including: Jamie Foxx’s 2004 Academy Award-winning performance as Ray Charles in Ray; Denzel Washington’s Academy Award-nominated role in The Hurricane; and many more.
Live sports and events will also be part of the Bounce TV schedule and the network has a multi-year rights agreement with Urban Sports Entertainment Group (USEG) to televise both football and basketball games from the nation’s largest African American athletic conference, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA).
"Our team is thrilled to bring the Bounce Network to the Central New York Community," said Theresa Underwood, WSYR-TV Vice President and General Manager.
Bounce TV's Founding Group includes Martin Luther King III and Ambassador Andrew Young. The network launched in 2011, but this will be the first time it's been offered in Syracuse.
Bounce's arrival is part of a multi-station deal involving WSYR-TV's parent company, Texas-based Nexstar Broadcasting. Earlier this week, TVNewsCheck reported Nexstar and Bounce renewed existing affiliation agreements in nine other markets, while adding WSYR-TV and several other stations to the deal.
Viewers who watch over-the-air will continue to see NewsChannel 9's primary channel, including ABC network programming and local news in HD, on channel 9.1. The 9.2 subchannel will continue to offer the nostalgic fare of "MeTV," along with various local programming. Bounce TV will be seen on channel 9.3.
According to TVNewsCheck, Nexstar's deal with Bounce TV runs through 2017. Just like in Syracuse, other affiliates carry Bounce TV as a "subchannel" to compliment their primary signals.
Updated 11:00pm -- NewsChannel 9's press release did not mention whether 9.3 will be carried on Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS or other cable or satellite services. (Most of these services carry channels 9.1 and 9.2.) When CNYTVNews.com asked for clarification, NewsChannel 9's Julie Gehring said, "we are in talks with the cable and satellite providers and would be happy to share when final decisions have been made."
Unsurprisingly, no timeframe was provided -- we imagine Nexstar will have to work with each cable and sat provider separately to get 9.3 added, so different systems will likely add the channel on different dates. And knowing how contentious things can get between local stations and cable/sat companies when it comes to retransmission agreements, we can't help but wonder if 9.3 will be added quickly, or if any of the big companies resist until their next overall contract renewal comes around.