The tiny cable network has become a surprise outlet for R&B acts, helping break hits and bring Grammy noms
WE tv, the cable channel owned by AMC Networks, is giving an unexpected boost to female R&B acts with a slate of urban music-themed reality programs designed to appeal to the lucrative 25-54 African-American female demographic.
The small cable and satellite channel has four programs that showcase female R&B singers, including "Braxton Family Values," the hit show about Toni Braxton and her singing sisters that recently was renewed for a fourth season. Additionally, WE tv gave a second season to "SWV Reunited," a program that chronicles the comeback efforts of '90s trio Sisters With Voices. Rounding out the network's R&B lineup is "Tamar & Vince," the 2012 spinoff of Braxton Family Values that features one of the Braxton siblings, Tamar, and her husband, Streamline Records founder Vincent Herbert, and "Mary Mary," which stars the award-winning R&B/gospel duo of the same name.
The broadcast exposure has lent an unexpected hand to R&B -- a genre that of late has been overlooked by mainstream outlets. For the Feb. 27 season-three premiere of "Mary Mary," WE tv pulled in 958,000 viewers, a 62 percent increase over the show's season-two premiere, according to Nielsen. "SWV Reunited," whose first-season finale aired Feb. 20, averaged 1.2 million viewers per episode. "Braxton Family Values" and "Tamar & Vince" have posted viewership boosts each year, ranging from 10 percent to 50 percent.