Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider with more than 22 million subscribers, will distribute networks owned by Sean "Diddy" Combs, NBA superstar Magic Johnson, and Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez. The announcement came Tuesday from David L. Cohen, executive vp of Comcast Corporation
Combs will partner with MTV veteran Andy Schuon on Revolt, which will showcase music and pop culture programming including music videos, live performances, news and interviews with a robust social media component. The network has targeted to launch in 2013.
Revolt, said Combs, "is the first channel created entirely from the ground up in this new era of social media. We're building this platform for artists to reach an extraordinary number of people in a completely different way. Revolt will be live, like all great moments in television history."
According to a release from Combs' Bad Boy Entertainment, Revolt was selected from more than 100 proposals, and Comcast will be "the first cable operator to broadly carry [the channel] at the time of launch."
Despite ambitious social-media and live-programming goals, the announcements are vague on specifics. "The Revolt platform will exist as an authority in dynamic music content and a destination for conversations around music, artists, and their creations backed by the innovative leadership of Combs," the release reads. "It will be the first music network to truly leverage the power of social media communication tools to fuel the live music dialog and influence music culture and content in real time for the video-centric generation."
"I'm honored by the opportunity to be part of this effort to bring diverse programming to the masses," Combs said in the statement. "Marked by this partnership with Comcast, my hope is that this new network will spark a revolution in entertainment and encourage other media and communications companies to bring Revolt to their audiences."
"We are excited to launch this new music culture network, which takes this genre to a new level as music artists and viewers will be able to directly engage with the network through social media outlets," said David Jensen, Vice President of Content Acquisition for Comcast. "Sean has a strong vision for Revolt with long-term goals that support his mission to become the most trusted name in music."
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"I'm thrilled to be at the helm to usher in a completely new model of television that brings together the artist community, social media, and cutting edge technology," said Sean "Diddy" Combs, Chairman of Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group. "The opportunity to create a home for music, artists, and fans to communicate in an authentic way is truly unique. Revolt will celebrate and recreate the platform that helped launch my career, and give the world a new way to experience music on television."
Johnson's Aspire, a partnership with GMC TV that is set to launch this summer, will deliver "enlightening, entertaining and positive programming to African-Americans families," according to Comcast. Its programming will run the gamut from movies, documentaries, short films, music, comedy, performing arts and faith-based programs.
"Aspire will be a network that encourages and challenges African-Americans to reach for their dreams and will appeal to all generations," Johnson said in a statement.
El Rey, from Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures executives John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa, will be an English-language general entertainment network aimed at Latino audiences. El Rey will mix reality, scripted and animated series, movies, documentaries, news, music, comedy and sports programming. The network has entered into an agreement to launch by January 2014.
"This partnership with Comcast signals an important moment for the Latino community in this country - we are passionate about creating a wildly entertaining destination that we can be proud of by appealing to both Latino and mass market audiences," said Rodriguez and Fogelman in a joint statement.
The minority-backed networks are part of a pledge made by Comcast during its efforts to win government approval for its controlling stake in NBC Universal. A fourth minority-owned network will be operated by Spanish language television veteran Constantino "Said" Schwarz.
BabyFirst Americas, which is targeted to launch in April, is will emphasize early childhood development of verbal, math and motor skills.