MediaTakeOut's Fred Mwangaguhunga Chats Site's New TV Division, Says It's The Future
Fred Mwangaguhunga’s journey from Wall Street to the web is the perfect all American success story. In 2006 he founded MediaTakeOut.com, which has since become one of the most popular online destinations for Black celebrity gossip and news.
These days, Mwangaguhunga is looking to start another revolution in the name of internet TV. First Date the first of a host of original programming set to air on MTO premieres today. VIBE caught up with the busy entrepreneur to find out what else he has in store and why TV on the web is the future.
First Date will launch the beginning of your web TV career. Talk about the show and what’s in store for your upcoming programming.
First Date is going to be the first of several originally produced programs that we're going to be launching on MediaTakeOut. What we're looking to do by the middle of next year is to offer a new program everyday on MediaTakeOut, so it'll be seven new shows a week. First Date is going to be launching a week from Tuesday [Editor’s note: Tuesday Nov 1] and every Tuesday there'll be a new episode. If you go on Wednesday you'll be able to see the old episode but every Tuesday there'll be a brand new episode. First Date is a really funny dating show where you have one guy choosing between three women, or one woman choosing between three guys, and take them on a series of dates and they try and make a love connection. A lot of times there's humor involved, there’s sexiness involved and of course there's the MediaTakeOut snark involved.
There was a dating show back in the 90s where people would be on a date and little blurbs with witty comments about the date would pop up—
Yeah, we'll definitely going to be using that kind of stuff, of course our ratchetness is going to show up.
Elaborate on some of the original programming that will be on MediaTakeOut.
We’re starting off with reality but we're going to be moving on to scripted stuff as well. We got a documentary that we're working on right now. So there's going to be a lot of different stuff. We're going to be doing hard news stuff as we get closer to the election, but we're looking to produce and have a full broad spectrum of programming and it'll appeal to all the MediaTakeOut readers. We partnered with people over at Fisher Klingenstein. And the people at Fisher Klingenstein—before they started—worked for a company called City Lights, which produced between 70 and 80 shows that made it on to television. They produced Chopped, which was on the Food Network and they produced 70 other programs out there. So we have real TV people that are helping us produce real TV shows. The quality of the shows we are going to be good enough to be on MTV, or VH1 or BET, this isn't just some guy using a computer camera, this is real programming we're looking to produce that’s going to have real actors that we know. It's really just a new concept of truly taking the kind of programming that'll be on TV and moving it on to the web. We've made a significant investment in and our partners have made a significant investment in it to make this real.
And if it does get big enough, do you ever see it coming to actual network TV?
I'm not sure. Part of the issue, and part of the reason why we decided to go on this route is because we look at every study that shows people under 25 and people under 30 are watching most of their television quote on quote programming online, so because of that, I'm not sure if that's the kind of person that we're looking for. The person that likes to go on YouTube and look at videos, that's the person we're looking to get. That's the person that we're targeting and does it make sense to actually have brought it to TV? It might not, we're not closing any of the doors, but I think right now, you always hear people talk about TV is going to move onto the internet. We're looking to be one of the pioneers to actually make that a reality.
What do you think is missing in general in terms of Black programming?
I think there has to be hard news that is really done and meant for Black folks and I think when you listen to a lot of the traditional Black news there's a lot of talking points that people have, that's not really talking about issues Black people are really interested in, so what we're going to be doing is having producing by and meant for Black folks. This is not for advertisers and not to eventually get on MSNBC, we’re really ignoring all of that and just trying to produce content that people will actually want to see. That’s the concept that MediaTakeOut has and that's the concept of everything that we're going to be doing. And I think that it's going to be refreshing for a lot of people to see what that looks like. It might look different than a lot of what's out there. But I also suspect that it's going to resonate with the people a lot more.
When you look at MediaTakeOut’s numbers, it's obvious that it's not just Black people who are going to the site so what do you think it is about the brand that has such a wide appeal even though it's considered “urban?”
I think the authentic Black culture is there. It's the celebrity, the slang, the way of talking, the humor, I think it's attractive, not just to Black folks but to everyone. When you look at the media, why is Black media so prolific? When you look at music, why is Black music so prolific? I think that there is an inherited attractiveness to Black culture in America and across the world and I think that's part of what the success of MediaTakeOut is.