African American-founded, faith-based channel Impact Network is making a big push into entertainment and lifestyle content with the ramping up of its Saturday programming slate, the hiring of a new chief creative officer and executive producer of original content, and the launch of a 6,000-foot production facility in Detroit with a music division, Variety has learned exclusively.
The privately owned Impact Network has a reach of 80 million homes and distribution deals with DirecTV, Comcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum, Verizon Fios, Frontier, Cable Bahamas, Cox and Altice USA. Founder and CEO Bishop Wayne T. Jackson is looking to increase that footprint by beefing up the channel’s previously announced “Super Saturdays” block of programming, which will include talker/cooking show “Soul Food With Tara Wallace” and the Fredro Starr-hosted “Behind the Grind,” with the additions of music-video countdown show “Turn Up!” and “Impact-Plus,” an initiative that will give independent and established creators a platform to present their original content on Impact Network.
Leading this effort is Bishop Wayne T. Jackson’s son Royal Jackson, who has been promoted from director of marketing to Impact Network’s newly created role of chief creative officer and executive producer of original content. He will oversee all crossover efforts for the network and manage programming, as well as produce and direct select content for the expanding lifestyle block.
“As newly named chief creative officer, I am excited to expand the network’s reach into crossover mainstream programming as we continue to inspire and engage our loyal audience base while gaining new viewers,” Royal Jackson said. “Impact’s new ‘Super Saturdays’ lineup will have something for everyone and is just a sample of what’s to come as the network continues to build and expand beyond Saturdays and into weekly dayparts. Our plan is to build on the network’s loyal, multi-generational audience profile and engage them in a variety of ways.”
Bishop Wayne T. Jackson added: “For the past 12 years, my son has been an intricate part of this company helping brand the network to where it is today as he continues to build the foundation for this exciting direction. With his creative leadership, I am excited for Royal to lead our growth as we continue to evolve and provide more for our community’s future.”
“Turn Up!” is described as “an uplifting music video countdown series with ground-breaking videos from some of the music industry’s largest and independent labels. Each episode is hosted by various artists and will feature the hottest music videos across contemporary gospel, CCM, hip-hop and soul genres. Impact is working with multiple labels including Sony-RCA Inspiration for the content. The series is scheduled to film this summer in Detroit.”
Coinciding with the production of “Turn Up!,” Impact is launching Detroit-based production facility Impact Network Studios and a music division that will focus on creating cross-media, advertising and branded content promotional opportunities for Impact’s partner labels and artists to expand their reach and fanbase while on tour and during release.
Per Impact Network, “Phase one of Impact Network Studios, targeted to open in July, will have six brand-new sets with flexible interchangeable scenes and cyc wall green screen, and not only be a home to producing their own original content for the network, but open to other producers, production companies and clients as well. The diverse collection of sets includes 10-20 ft. LED Screens; LED color accent lights for scene variations and moods; standalone versatile elements such as pillars, panels and columns to be used to maximize the studio’s interchangeable concepts, along with varying furniture pieces and set dressings customizable for any production. Beyond the studio itself, the production facility will expand into a media lounge with multiple dressing rooms, offices, and make-up and green rooms, where talent and their teams can reside comfortably while other programs are recording.”
Impact Network will launch its “Super Saturdays” block of programming in June, starting with “Soul Food” and leading into the debut of “Behind the Grind” in July. The channel will also be adding a Saturday-night movie component. Meanwhile, “Turn Up!” will start airing mid-fall.
Over the course of the next year, Impact Network aims to increase “Super Saturdays” into a full day’s worth of “diverse enriching and entertaining programs that range from talk, lifestyle, music, entertainment, and community awareness.” That will include the offerings that are brought in through “Impact-Plus,” which has a content partnership and license agreement from NewUrbanTV (Urban Beauty TV, UrbanMD & Wildfire TV), as well as content from StellarTV, Lionsgate and Mann’s Mackie Studios.
“In our 12th anniversary year, the Impact Network continues to trailblaze new ways to make a difference in the lives of others,” Bishop Wayne T. Jackson said. “‘Super Saturdays’ provides positive and impactful content to enrich not only the soul of the individual, but the soul of the community.”
Pictured above (l to r): Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, Royal Jackson
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