What’s one thing missing from television these days? A sense of Black pride.
James DuBose, the founder and CEO of a forthcoming streaming AVOD platform, In The Black Network, wants to bring this feeling back.
“I wanted to bring back the feeling where you don’t just watch us but you feel everything we’re doing,” the media industry vet tells ESSENCE. “You feel the sense of the Black pride, if you will, and get a sense that this is ours.”
DuBose, who was formerly a General Manager at Fox Soul, wants those who tune-in to his streaming platform to feel both inspired and entertained. While the CEO officially left Fox Soul as of mid-June 2023, he says that the idea for In The Black Network was in the back of his mind since he and his team started building Fox Soul in March 2019.
“The idea was eventually for Fox Soul to be the majority Black-owned. That was the goal.” DuBose continues, “I used to get a lot of questions, ‘Why are you going to build a Black-focused network with Fox, understanding what Fox was representing in the community (at the time)?’ My goal was to unmute our voice. I felt like Black voices had an opportunity to speak unapologetically at Fox and they allowed us to do that, to their credit.”
While Fox Soul carved out space for Black content, this wasn’t enough. DuBose’s goals and aspirations far exceeded the media network. Furthermore, the founder says that the business at Fox Soul changed—DuBose felt that it was time to pursue his dream. “It was the perfect opportunity for me to transition into something that was Black-owned, Black-focused and profitable. And that’s why I came up with the name In The Black [Network].”
Fast forward to the present—In The Black Network officially launches on October 2, 2023. And the founder hopes to find success with his forthcoming endeavor, as he sees streaming as the future. It is the direction that the media industry is moving towards. The success of platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ (amongst others) have proven this to be true. It’s the flexibility and on-demand nature of streaming that DuBose hopes to capitalize on.
“Nobody wants to be told they have to be in front of their TV at eight o’clock tonight to watch their favorite show anymore,” says DuBose. “They want to watch when they want to watch and wherever they are.”
DuBose says that he and his colleagues started Fox Soul, which is also an interactive streaming platform, on a piece of paper. They pitched the platform, then tested it, got it green lit, beta launched October 2019 and officially launched January 2020. Despite the hustle and bustle that it took to get Fox Soul off of the ground, it did not compare to the angst and trepidation that DuDose felt when launching his own platform.
“Starting something on my own like this, I’ve been through every emotion that you can imagine: Scared, excited, all those things. But the key to this is technology. At the end of the day, streaming is a technology business. And I feel like I have the right tech team in Brightcove [software company] that I partner with to do the back office, to do the tech and to build the channel and to build the app and to be my distribution partner. And that’s where all this begins.”
With what the CEO refers to as “great technology,” he hopes to bring quality content to In The Black Network and scale up: Bigger, better, greater. In terms of DuBose’s taste in content, he has no favorite movies, or film genres. Though the founder admits that he enjoys films about family faith and resiliency. Afterall, it is through the ups-and-downs of life that DuBose has learned to focus on his own growth and development. This inward focus, DuBose believes, will in turn allow the founder to build and grow In The Black Network.
“It is a huge undertaking. It’s scary. But this is my purpose, to be honest with you.” The CEO continues, “I’m literally feeling like everything I’ve been through in life has brought me to this moment and this is it. This will be the legacy.”