Magic Johnson talked about a number of topics during his 25-minute chat Monday with Tavis Smiley, but perhaps most interesting to Variety readers were his comments comparing Aspire, the cable network he is aiming to launch by June 30, to Oprah Winfrey's efforts with OWN.

Smiley: If she’d known that establishing a network would be this hard she might not have done it and done something different. I’ll let people go online and read the transcript; I’m just paraphrasing. But she opened up today about the difficulty of trying to get a network off the ground.

Now, this is Oprah Winfrey. Now, Magic Johnson ain’t no slouch, but when Oprah is laying out how difficult this was and the mistakes that she made and the challenges in making this happen, you take anything from that?

Johnson: Oh, no question about it, because that’s Oprah and that’s billions of dollars she’s worth and has, and Magic don’t have that type of capital. When you think about spending $400 million and having gotten it right, I can’t afford to spend $400 million.

So I understand everything that she’s talking about. I hope that our group and myself have learned from her mistakes. I’m targeted, though, and probably I think that’s the difference. I’m going just after African Americans. I’m going after African American families. It’s going to be a family network where we try to bring the families back watching TV.

We’re targeted that way, we understand that and I’m going for the 30 and over because BET already have the young people and TV One is a little older than them, and then I’m going older than them. So I think that we know who we’re going after. We’re going to try to hit that person who will be watching, that professional, that mom, that dad, and hopefully have their kids around watching our network.


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