Three months ago, Byron Allen stunned media industry insiders when he purchased The Weather Channel.
Now, the Entertainment Studios founder, chairman and CEO is speaking more candidly about why the acquisition was particularly important to expanding his portfolio.
“I don’t want to play in the negro league, I want to play in the global leagues,” Allen said Thursday during the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina.
— Black Enterprise (@blackenterprise) June 7, 2018
The media mogul, comedian and philanthropist was the featured speaker at a discussion titled “Fireside Chat.”
He described his acquisition of The Weather Channel as “transformative.”
“It’s the largest cable network not owned by a conglomerate,” Allen said. “It’s the first cable network general market that’s owned by an African American.”
He added: “I want to send the message really loud and clear that that’s a fine box, but I’m not in that box. I’m chasing trillions not millions.”
The media mogul’s Entertainment Studios acquired the parent company of The Weather Channel from the Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and Comcast/NBCUniversal in March for $300 million.
While The Weather Channel was the company’s highest profile acquisition to date, it’s just the latest in a dizzying list of recent purchases.
Over the years, the comedian-turned-entrepreneur has expanded Entertainment Studios to include eight 24-hour HD cable networks including Comedy.TV, Recipe.TV and ES.TV.
Among the company’s other holdings are The Grio, a news and entertainment website geared toward African Americans. And he entered the film industry in 2015, after acquiring Freestyle Releasing, an independent movie distributor known for the 2014 faith-based film, God’s Not Dead.
The Detroit native said he was inspired to entrepreneurship as a child after his mother, grandmother and uncle took him for a car ride through part of the Motor City where “rich white people lived.”
“I’m sitting in the back of this car, and they’re like, ‘that’s there the Fords live. That’s where the Dodge brothers live. That’s where the Goodyear family lives. And that’s where Berry Gordy lives,'” Allen told Black Enterprise summit attendees.
He was particularly affected by Motown records founder Gordy’s home.
“When I saw, at seven years old, that black man living in that neighborhood with an indoor swimming pool, I saw myself differently from that point on,” he said.
Allen started Entertainment Studios at his dining room table in 1993.
He has said in previous interviews that he faced a number of obstacles along the way, including having his home fall into foreclosure multiple times.