Black family-focused ad-supported streaming service BLKFAM launches

BLKFAM, a new free ad-supported streaming service focused on programming geared toward American Black families, launched this week with the backing of artist Whoopi Goldberg.

Goldberg signed on as an equity partner along with Tom Leonardis, president of Whoop Inc. The entrepreneur will be guiding creative development for different exclusive programming on the platform.

“I am honored to partner with BLKFAM to assist in the creative direction of curated diverse content – for Black culture to be brought to broader audiences," Goldberg said in a statement.

The family-friendly AVOD service is launching with more than 20 syndicated series, over 1,000 hours of new animated titles and hundreds of hours of original music-driven content. It’s also planning original series with 10 new original live action and animated series in development and slated to premiere on the service throughout the year. In addition to kids programming, BLKFAM aims to cater to the whole family with content centered on the Black experience and stories incorporating diversity, equity, inclusion and empowerment. Content spans categories such as investigative journalism and news, fitness and wellness series, Black history, childrens’ and adult animation, sitcom and reality shows, and music programs.  

“Black culture and content is so often stereotyped, siloed or written off – so I wanted to create a platform where my kids and I can be entertained without having to face those same daily biases,” said Larry Adams, founder and CEO of BlkFam. “By curating authentic content – proven through data and AI – primarily from Black storytellers, we’ve built a service reflecting true inclusion and diversity, where Black parents and children especially can feel holistically represented.”

BLKFAM also partnered with The Africa Channel to boost the new platform with content focused on stories from the global Black diaspora. In addition, Playwatch Kids and ATTN are developing educational animation and documentary-style shows featuring ethnic and culturally diverse characters.

Starting Monday, BLKFAM is available on iOS, Android, Amazon Prime Video Channels, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV and smart TVs from Samsung, Vizio and LG.

In announcing the launch, BLKFAM said it fills a gap in the streaming market, citing Nielsen data showing that while Black viewers consume the most media and TV, Black audiences still feel misrepresented or underrepresented in mainstream media. According to Nielsen’s February report, among U.S. audiences, Black consumers spend over 81 hours per week with media, which is nearly 32% more than the general population. And while nearly three-quarters of Black American audiences pay for three or more streaming services, 67% agree they wish they saw more representation of their identity group when watching TV.

And separate Horowitz Research data shows that Black audiences over-index compared to the total market for both free and paid streaming services. In an April 2023 report Horwitz found that four in five, or 80%, of Black Americans used a free OTT service within the past month, compared to 69% of consumers overall.

The report also showcased a desire for Black-focused content. While Amazon Prime Video and Netflix were the top SVOD services Black TV content viewers used, Black viewers also reported subscribing to a range of SVODs with more targeted content, including BET+, Black World Cinema, AllBlk, and Zeus.  And 60% of Black TV content viewers surveyed said having Black-focused content is important for their household.

“For many years, Horowitz’s data has underscored that Black audiences are among the most valuable customers when it comes to the pay TV market, and the same holds true in the streaming space,” notes Adriana Waterston, chief revenue officer and Insights & Strategy lead for Horowitz Research, in a statement regarding the report. “This is an audience hungry for content, which drives higher consumption across a wide variety of platforms and services. In today’s fragmented media ecosystem, offering a broad array of content that represents the diversity of Black experiences, lifestyles, cultures, and communities is an important way for media companies to super-serve this important audience and keep them engaged.”

Article updated to reflect that BLKFAM is available as an AVOD service, not a linear FAST service.