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The under-representation pervading Hollywood has been widely acknowledged for a number of years. Steps have been taken to make America’s central film and TV landscape more balanced, and UCLA’s most recent Hollywood Diversity Report highlighted the progress that has been made.
However, it also emphasized that a great deal of work remains to be done, and that certain minority groups, such as those who identify as Latinx, still lag far behind in terms of representation. The Latinx share of all film roles in 2021 was just 7.7%, despite making up nearly 19% of the wider population.
Furthermore, the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that just 32% of lead or co-lead roles went to those from a historically excluded race or ethnicity.
SEGI TV, the free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service, is tired of waiting for the playing field to be truly leveled. It is setting out to accelerate this progress through its elevation of content that is being overlooked by the Netflixes and Disney-Pluses of the world. It is championing the cause of independent film-makers and storytellers, while at the same time placing inclusivity at the heart of all its creative choices.
The FAST model, in which there is no subscription fee, and viewers instead watch periodic advertisements during their programmes, is rapidly gaining prominence across the US. In 2020, the share of FAST platform viewers in the US was 40%. This year, that figure has risen to 58%, signifying how consumers’ viewing habits are evolving away from the subscription package and pay-per-view models.
The emphasis is therefore placed on in-programme advertising. By providing content that appeals to under-represented and overlooked markets, SEGI TV is building an audience that cannot be reached by more mainstream streaming offerings. Considered in the context of our increasingly narrow and specialized streaming habits, this is establishing SEGI TV as a prime target for advertisers.
“There are so many brilliant content creators out there that are making fantastic shows, but they are being ignored by large streaming platforms because their stories are too ‘niche’. These stories can often revolve around LGBTQ+ issues and messaging that impacts minority groups in America, which aren’t necessarily as appealing to mainstream services that want to brush with a broader palette,” underlines Edward Sylvan, Co-Founder of Sycamore Entertainment Group, the firm behind SEGI TV.
SEGI TV is committed to uncovering these hidden stories, a mission that is fuelled by the fact that its founders know exactly what it feels like to enter a world where your race is not widely represented. Edward and his brother Terry, with whom he co-founded Sycamore, grew up in the Caribbean-Canadian community in Toronto. Edward studied Economics and Political Science at college, while Terry pursued Business Administration. Edward then worked his way up in the world of investment banking, while his brother rose to prominence as a financial and marketing expert.
In the financial services sector, the under-representation of people of color continues to be a highly acute issue. Edward and Terry Sylvan saw this issue being reflected across TV and film industries, and subsequently decided to set about changing this for the better. As a result, they co-founded the Sycamore Entertainment Group in 2007, and then took it public three years later.
“Funding for minority-owned media companies has improved in recent years, but there is still a long way to go. This is why we’re excited to be providing a unique proposition through SEGI TV, which offers niche content from under-represented creatives. We’re reaching audiences that the likes of Netflix and Disney+ cannot access,” underlines Edward Sylvan.
The independent film market took a huge hit during the pandemic, which has stifled opportunities within this industry. The Sylvan brothers are utilizing SEGI TV as a medium through which they can give a filmographic boost to these creators.
SEGI TV is available to 100 million US households, and 200 million across the world through mobile devices and OTT. The platform is introducing an increasing number of exclusive, high-profile streaming events, such as the blockbuster Eddie vs Thor boxing match and its upcoming Electric Odyssey Extreme-E racing documentary. Through the unrivaled diversification of its content and its primary emphasis on inclusion, extending to both independent creatives and minority film-makers, SEGI TV continues to consolidate its status as a pioneer in the space.
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