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Bob Johnson’s RLJ Entertainment Launches ‘Urban Movie Channel’ Over-the-Top Video Service

RLJ Entertainment, created by BET founder Robert L. Johnson, is launching the Urban Movie Channel digital subscription VOD channel, with a mix of comedy, drama, horror and documentary titles.

While RLJ Entertainment was part of YouTube’s pay-channel initiative last year, Urban Movie Channel (UMC) is available only on urbanmoviechannel.com. RLJE has discontinued the OnCue urban-themed programming YouTube pay channel but still offers the Acorn TV subscription service on YouTube, focused on licensed British TV programming, as well as directly at acorn.tv.

UMC will feature urban-themed movies with titles including: live stand-up performances by Kevin Hart, Jamie Foxx and Charlie Murphy; documentaries “Dark Girls” and “I Ain’t Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac”; feature films “All Things Fall Apart” starring 50 Cent, Mario Van Peebles and Ray Liotta, and “The Suspect” starring Mekhi Phifer; and stage play productions including “What My Husband Doesn’t Know” by David E. Talbert.

The UMC service is launching with a free trial period for subscribers through Feb. 4, 2015. After that, the OTT service will be priced at $4.99 per month (or $49.99 per year), with limited introductory pricing of $2.99 per month (or $29.99 per year). Programs previously released by RLJE under the One Village brand will be incorporated into UMC’s library, which will also include titles from RLJE’s existing Image independent feature film line.

“UMC was designed so that the African-American and urban creative community could directly reach consumers in a way that removes many of the restrictions associated with the legacy content development and distribution models,” Johnson said in a statement. “As more video is consumed over broadband, we believe that we can quickly become the preeminent provider of quality urban entertainment to what has largely been an underserved, yet highly engaged audience.”

Also Wednesday, RLJ Entertainment announced that Traci Otey Blunt has been appointed corporate EVP of marketing and corporate affairs and will oversee the company’s marketing, public relations and investor relations, as well as the promotion of the UMC channel. Previously, Otey Blunt was head of corporate communications and public affairs at The RLJ Companies, the holding company that formed RLJ Entertainment.

Johnson formed RLJ Entertainment in October 2012 through merger of RLJ Acquisition, Image Entertainment and Acorn Media Group. The Bethesda, Md.-based company licenses and distributes about 5,300 titles in North America, the U.K. and Australia. RLJE owns 64% of Agatha Christie Ltd. and manages the intellectual property and publishing rights to mystery franchises of the famed British author including Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

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