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October 18, 2013

You Say You Want a Revolution?

Sean Combs’ music net Revolt TV rolls out Monday with distribution deals in place with Time Warner Cable and Comcast. It’s one of at least 9 cable nets to launch in the 2nd half of ’13. What sets it apart?

“The audience we’re going after is a millennial audience that operators need to reach because they are the future. They’ll be paying the bills for quite some time, so to reach them early is an important thing,” Revolt CEO Keith Clinkscales told us.

He’s no stranger to cable, having previously spent 7 years as an svp at ESPN. Sure, the rate card for the 2 networks couldn’t be more different, but they are similar in that both are trying to reach a passionate fan base. How involved is Diddy? Very, Clinkscales assured us, describing how the performer has tagged along on ad sales and affiliate calls.

“He is a worldwide, internationally known celebrity and respected businessman. It helps us cut through a lot of different things. But we have work to do,” he said. “It’s like the privilege of working with him, the privilege of having a celebrity requires that we work very hard. It’s a high bar.”

Combs is just as involved on the content side, according to Val Boreland, evp, programming and strategy. “He looks at every graphic and every host. He’s picking the music with the music programmers, and looking at our Website, which has been the platform for what we’re going to build,” she said. He’s also pushed staff to remember this isn’t a hip hop network—Revolt will cover all types of music.

Monday’s launch isn’t a soft launch, but “it certainly won’t be something like how you expect the artist P Diddy does a new album,” Clinkscales said. The full programming slate will develop over the next couple months as distribution ramps, with January seeing the introduction of a daily, 1-hour live show. Music videos will be a large part of the net.

“We are giving [the audience] something they never really experienced before because they grew up in an age in which MTV was not about music,” Boreland said. “They don’t identify with the few other music channels that are out there. On top of that, we’re delivering news and information. It’s like combining the videos on the Internet and the information on Twitter and the conversations you have with your friends all in one place, and with credibility and authority.”

Clinkscales acknowledged that there are a number of networks out there that deal in music, citing BET’s recently wrapped Hip Hop Awards. His hope is that as a 24/7 music channel, Revolt can be a part of what’s already in the mix. “What we have an opportunity to do is find a way to work with all those other networks to cover those things. We’ll cover the VMAs, we’ll cover the Grammys, all these different things,” he said. “They’re like playoffs from my ESPN days.”







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