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Streaming Networks Provide HBCUs With Media Deals To Help Generate Revenue

HBCUs have been neglected, both from a funding standpoint and the standpoint of recognition and visibility.

Since the HBCU+ network was launched in 2021 by Urban Edge Network, its Chief Revenue Officer Hardy Pelt and Founder, alongside Todd Brown, it has continued to expand. Currently, the HBCU+ platform reaches over 300 million mobile devices around the world. As Brown told The Shadow League, “HBCUs represent 101 Black communities because there is no HBCU that is not a Black community. When you see the economics of $1.6 trillion in the marketing space. HBCU+ is a vehicle to reach an untapped market of people ages 12 to 80 and heavily female.”

HBCUs have been neglected in terms of funding and from a standpoint of recognition and visibility. The latter was helped tremendously when Jackson State hired NFL Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders to be its head coach in 2020. Sanders brought attention and top prospects like his son, Shedeur Sanders, and Travis Hunter to Jackson State and, by extension, other HBCUs.

The funding, however, is less easily remedied on an institutional level, which Dr. Al-Tony Gilmore, Distinguished Historian Emeritus of the National Education Association, explained in an article. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education states, “The decline in the athletic programs at these schools may now be irreversible, and only an improbable massive infusion of money could restore the sports programs they have lost since integration. As it should be, these schools center their financial priorities and energies on infrastructure, academic programs, faculty, and on raising money and increasing their small endowments.”

HBCU+, as Sports Illustrated reports, has been a player in disrupting the media landscape, represented by the meeting between Brown and Pelt. Like the creation of the institutions whose sports teams they broadcast, HBCU+ was born out of a desire to create equality for Black-owned media companies. The network has also allowed the universities access to a revenue stream that had previously only been enjoyed by predominantly white-owned media institutions. HBCU+ has also integrated with Amagi, which will allow the HBCU partners to maximize revenue and create a source of income for the athletic departments, helping them get more money. 

Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group has also entered this space. In January, Allen’s free streaming digital platform, HBCU GO, signed an eight-year deal with the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, giving them exclusive rights to broadcast all SIAC events through 2032. Allen said in a statement to Sports Video, “This is a historic moment. The HBCU GO team is excited to partner with SIAC to distribute their conference games to a broader audience. We are committed to bringing the best of HBCU culture and sports to our global platforms.”

SIAC Commissioner Anthony Holloman believes that the partnership will open new doors for the conference. “We are thrilled to announce our partnership with HBCU GO,” Holloman told Sports Video. “Through this innovative streaming platform, we invite fans from around the world to join us in celebrating the indomitable spirit of SIAC sports and culture. This new era of digital engagement opens doors to boundless opportunities and ensures that every thrilling moment will be etched in the memories of our dedicated supporters. We extend our sincere gratitude to HBCU GO for their invaluable collaboration, and we can’t wait to share the excitement and passion of SIAC sporting events with fans everywhere.” 

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