Home Entertainment Whoopi Goldberg Invests in Blkfam, a New Free Kid-Friendly Streaming Service for...

Whoopi Goldberg Invests in Blkfam, a New Free Kid-Friendly Streaming Service for Black Audiences: ‘I Feel Like We’re Not Always Represented in the Best Possible Way’ (EXCLUSIVE)

33
0

Whoopi Goldberg, famed EGOT and business mogul, is adding another entry to her résumé: streaming entrepreneur.

Goldberg is an equity investor in Blkfam, billed as the first and only Black-owned and Black-focused family streaming platform. The free, ad-supported service launches Feb. 26 across multiple platforms.

At launch, Blkfam’s content library includes more than 20 syndicated series, with over 1,000 hours of animation titles, dozens of animated characters of color and diverse gender experiences, and hundreds of hours of original music-driven content. In addition, the company has 10 original live-action and animated series in development set to premiere on the platform throughout 2024.

Goldberg has signed on as equity partner of New York-based Blkfam alongside Tom Leonardis, president of Goldberg’s Whoop Inc. production company, and she will steer the creative development of exclusive programming projects for the platform.

Blkfam was founded by digital media veteran Larry Adams (pictured above), who last year called Goldberg to see if she would be interested in being part of the venture. “I have a 10-year-old great-granddaughter — and there isn’t a lot of content out there created by people who look like her, for her,” Goldberg told Variety. “I feel like we’re not always represented in the best possible way.”

Goldberg said that prior to her investment in Blkfam, “no one has ever invited me to be part of the ground floor. And this is not even the ground floor, it’s the basement!”

“I like the idea of being part of something that will grow,” she continued. “As I get older, I say, ‘Wow, things will outlast me.’ This is one of the things I hope outlasts me — I could be the Black woman Walt Disney!”

Goldberg has penned several children’s books, including her popular “Sugar Plum Ballerinas” series. Currently a co-host on “The View,” she has appeared in more than 150 films, including “The Color Purple,” “Sister Act,” “Till” and “Ghost” (for which she won an Oscar).

Said Adams: “The magic of working with Whoopi Goldberg is, she has a magic bag of ideas.”

Adams, who serves as CEO of Blkfam and is the majority equity owner, declined to disclose how much funding the company has raised. He was formerly WarnerMedia’s SVP of digital strategy, product experience and head of design, where helped design and launch HBO Max (now called Max) and DirecTV Now, and also served as senior adviser for Mike Bloomberg’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Adams said he was motivated to create Blkfam after he was browsing through one of the popular streaming services’ Black programming hubs (he wouldn’t name which one) to find something to watch for his kids and found “a ton of R-rated content.”

“Black culture and content is so often stereotyped, siloed or written off, so I wanted to create a platform where my kids and I can be entertained without having to face those same daily biases,” Adams said. “By curating authentic content — proven through data and AI — primarily from Black storytellers, we’ve built a service reflecting true inclusion and diversity, where Black parents and children especially can feel holistically represented.”

The goal of Blkfam is to present a curated collection of “authentic, inclusive stories” that “entertains, educates and celebrates Black American family-friendly content.”

According to Adams, Blkfam fills a “major gap” in the streaming market. A recent Nielsen study found that despite Black audiences overindexing on most media and TV consumption, they still feel misrepresented or underrepresented in mainstream media. He said Blkfam addresses this underserved market by bringing “family-friendly” and “unbiased” content to streaming.

Content partners for Blkfam include PlayWatch Kids and Candle Media’s ATTN:, which are developing educational and empowering shows in animation and documentary styles that center on ethnic and culturally diverse characters. PlayWatch’s lineup of animated shows includes “Gabby Galactic and the Orbiteens,” “The Marvelous Light,” “Black History Beats” and “Kembe.” Blkfam also is licensing programming from the Africa Channel.

“We are extremely excited to be partnering with Blkfam — we feel this is a historic moment for families across the globe,” Playwatch owner Jimmy Jenkins said in a statement. “Ultimately this platform will impact our children, and our children’s children.”

At launch, Blkfam (blkfam.tv) is available on iOS, Android, Amazon Prime Video Channels, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, and smart TVs from Samsung, Vizio and LG.

Part of Blkfam’s model will be to finance original series through brand partnerships, Adams said. “We are not doing the same thing other streamers have done where they go out and get 10,000 hours of stuff,” he said. “Our curated approach means [the catalog] won’t be as deep and endless as a Netflix, but it will be interesting faces you haven’t seen before.”