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Brown Sugar Streaming Service Launches on Roku (EXCLUSIVE)

Brown Sugar, the streaming video service that bills itself as being “like Netflix, only blacker,” officially launched a channel on Roku streaming devices Friday. Katz Broadcasting VP of digital content Calandria Meadows told Variety that the service is looking to target African-American Roku users with “entertainment that looks like them.”

Katz, which also operates African-American TV network Bounce TV, launched Brown Sugar as a standalone streaming service for Blaxploitation movies and similar fare last November. “We really felt like there was a gap in the marketplace,” said Meadows, as other streaming services were ignoring 70s classics like “Shaft” and “Foxy Brown.”

Brown Sugar, which charges consumers $3.99 per month, initially launched on iOS, Android and Chromecast, and has since expanded to Kindle Fire tablets as well. Jonathan Katz, CEO of Katz Networks declined to talk about the service’s subscriber numbers, but said that “growth has been steady and solid.”

Katz also said that Brown Sugar has steadily expanding its content offering, from around 100 movies at launch to close to 300 titles to date. In addition, the service has been getting in-season episodes of Bounce TV shows, and has begun to stream select boxing matches.

Eventually, Brown Sugar may also produce its own shows, much like Netflix does today “We are looking at original content,” said Katz. However, he also said that the service still has what he called “a long runway” of acquired content at its disposal.

Speaking of Netflix: Katz and Meadows didn’t seem too concerned about competition from the streaming giant. “We believe that this is not a zero-sum game,” said Katz. Ultimately, Netflix would teach consumers to pay for streaming, and Netflix users were more likely to subscribe to Brown Sugar as well than other consumers.

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