First Black-Owned Streaming Channel Announced
By Danielle Sanders, Chicago Defender Interim Managing Editor
Polaris, the 100% black-owned television, digital and social media platform, today announced the launch of its first free ad-supported streaming TV channel (FAST), to debut on VIZIO’s SmartCast platform. Created by digital media pioneer and legendary journalist, Rahman J. Dukes, Polaris exists to uncover and share stories created by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and authentically share Hip-Hop and Black culture with the world. With guidance from the Polaris board, iconic media personality Sway Calloway (MTV) and music historian Shaheem Reid, Polaris delivers a superior viewing experience through authentic, meaningful content that channels the spirit of African culture and music.
Polaris will officially debut in October exclusively to VIZIO SmartCast users on WatchFree+, VIZIO’s free streaming service. “Working with Polaris, we are bringing to market a channel that celebrates black culture and delivers unique entertainment experiences to SmartCast users,” said Steve DeMain, VP Engagement at VIZIO. “We are excited to partner with these legendary creators to deliver a channel exclusive to SmartCast audiences.”
VIZIO SmartCast viewers soon have around-the-clock access to authentic programming from Polaris, including:
- The Daily Check In — In this flagship show, music historian Shaheem Reid delves into the hottest entertainment topics of the day with notable celebrities and media personalities.
- BridgeBizness — In this sports-centric show, well-respected journalist Sway Calloway and media personality Horse will host an interview style show featuring special guests and celebrities.
- Method To The Madness — An episodic series that documents the early stages of Method Man’s career during his meteoric rise to the top of the rap game.
- 9BLOCC — A music video countdown show fused with social media commentary that highlights up and coming artists.
“Partnering with VIZIO to launch Polaris is a historical step in getting the stories of Black and BIPOC storytellers out there in an authentic way, something we’ve prided ourselves in for the past two decades,” said Rahman J. Dukes, Principal Chairman and Founder of Polaris. “Polaris aims to be a beacon of inspiration for the culture, and VIZIO will allow our curated content to truly be that beacon, and help us deliver authentic programming to millions of households.”
Polaris is at the forefront of digital and viral moments and provides curated programming varying from music, lifestyle, news and social justice. The 100% Black owned media company was founded by esteemed journalist and digital media pioneer, Rahman J. Dukes. Dukes began his career at MTV, ultimately reaching the position of Managing Editor of Urban at MTV.com and MTVNews.com over the course of 18 years. In addition to overseeing the news operations, Dukes developed and produced original content for MTV brands, including MTV Jams, YO! MTV Raps, MTV2, the MTV Video Music Awards, and MTV Unplugged. Dukes partnered with Jay Z and the United Nations in an effort to provide water to Africa. He also developed MTV’s first digital rap series, RapFix, and one of its first streaming properties, RapFix Live, and has introduced many artists to the masses at the company including Kanye West, 50 Cent, Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa and much more.
Following MTV, Dukes was named Senior Vice President/Head of Content for Sean Combs’ digital cable television network REVOLT. There, he oversaw the programming property on it’s linear network, as well the company’s digital and social platform. Dukes led its licensing and acquisitions department that included shows The Breakfast Club, Drink Champs and the Rolling Loud festival. Dukes also oversaw and launched the network’s social justice initiative and its 2016 Presidential election campaign, and led the company’s live stream initiative.
VIZIO provides convenient access to on-screen apps like Apple TV+, BET+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock, Prime Video and YouTube.TV. It also includes support for Apple AirPlay 2 & Chromecast built-in, allowing viewers to stream, control, and share content from their phone, tablet, or laptop directly onto the big screen. VIZIO SmartCast is continuously enhancing the platform with new features and content, so users have endless entertainment options, all while staying healthy and safe in their homes.
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