Centric ‘Soul Train’ Gains Steam

by Carly Zipp, BET

Cedric the Entertainer onstage at Centric's 3rd Annual Soul Train Awards at the Fox Theatre on Nov. 17, 2011 in Atlanta. (Photo: Paul Abell/PictureGroup)

As Monday’s Content Distribution and Marketing strategy meeting came to a close, Ashley Culp, Centric’s vice president of Partner Marketing, got a little excited. 

“Centric started out as the little engine that could, and now we’re a big revved up Soul Train,” he said.

Culp’s got a point. The 24-hour channel for African-American and multicultural adult viewers continues to steadily pick up steam. Since the network launched in 2009, Centric has posted year-over-year growth in every successive quarter, and last year ranked among the top 10 for fastest growing cable networks.

Music is the cornerstone of Centric, with the Soul Train Awards, which have honored legends ranging from Gladys Knight to Ron Isley, and docu-series As Written and Being, which explore the lives of music icons Robin Thicke, R. Kelly, Mary J. Blige and others.  The programming mix is balanced with a heavy dose of classic comedies, including The Cosby Show and In Living Color.

Beyond music and laughter, though, Centric has come of age by offering its audiences catharsis, too.  When news broke of the passing of Don Cornelius, Centric became a hub for all things Soul Train, going wall-to-wall with airings of its Soul Train documentary, the Soul Train Awards and episodes of the classic dance TV series itself.

Only weeks later, Centric transformed itself again as a place for fans to remember the musical talents of “The Voice” Whitney Houston. The network aired continuous music blocks of Whitney’s videos and live coverage from her funeral, and gave its viewers a place to grieve but also celebrate her life.

Centric also aired Be Inspired: The Life of Heavy D, the first original documentary about the late rapper, featuring interviews with his family and entertainment insiders such as Will Smith, Cee Lo and Queen Latifah.

As the network continues to grow, Centric keeps its finger on the pulse of an ever-changing beat, with a mix of music, culture and lifestyle programming that embodies the lives, tastes and aspirations of its audience.

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