Diddy’s Revolt TV Rocks Into Second Year

Revolt TV on Tuesday (Oct. 21) will celebrate its first anniversary as a cable network. Born as one of four new minority-owned networks supported by Comcast as part of the Federal Communications Commission’s conditions for its 2010 acquisition of NBCUniversal, the Sean “Diddy” Combs-founded network also has carriage deals with such distributors as Time Warner Cable, Suddenlink Communications and Verizon Communications to bring its music-themed programming to its target millennial audience. Overall, the network said it attracts more than 50 million young adults through television, digital, social and mobile properties. Multichannel News programming editor R. Thomas Umstead spoke with Revolt TV CEO Keith Clinkscales by phone from a Revolt-sponsored music conference in Miami, Fla., about the network’s first year on the air.

MCN: How would you define Revolt’s growth during its first year of operations? Are you satisfied with the development?

Keith Clinkscales: The network development has been higher than my expectations. The types of advertisers we’ve been able to get, the engagement we’ve been able to get on social media and other digital platforms, the ability we’ve had to cover music news, as well as non-music events like what’s happening in Ferguson [Mo.] and some other things has been great. We’ve had an exceptional year with regards to advertising. We had an upfront in our first year, and that paid off handsomely — we’ve been able to have people from Chrysler, Fiat, Procter & Gamble, Honda, Beats by Dre, Pepsi, Sprite and Anheuser-Busch all advertise on the network. For a network that’s not ever a year old, we are very pleased with our progress. Sean Combs has been masterful and helpful with advertising, distribution and getting talent and other people that are influential in the music business to pay attention to Revolt from a very early phase.

For the most part we feel very well-poised going into the next year.

MCN: Are you satisfied from a distribution standpoint?

KC: Until you’re fully distributed, the answer to that is no. [Laughs.] The discussions that we’ve had with a number of partners on cable have been positive but it’s a difficult time for startups. The cable partners have been receptive to our message and they’ve been instructional. But we have more work to do — it’s up to us to keep working on what we do to make it so that the distributors can make the economic decision to put us on. But I’ve been very pleased with the way we’ve been able to talk to everyone.

MCN: Do you think that after one year you’ve put to rest the questions as to whether a 24- hour, music-themed network can survive and thrive on cable?

KC: I don’t know if we’ve put them to rest, but I think all of the people that are in cable see where the young audience is going. The young audience cares about music — they are not so much about the platform but rather getting what they want. Revolt has had a tremendous surge digitally and in social media, so that has helped us tremendously dealing with our cable partners because they know that it’s not something foreign to the young people. I think the industry sees that music is very important to young people.

MCN: How do you see the prospects for Revolt over the next 12 months?

KC: We have to keep working because this is a challenging time for cable. There is a lot of change going on and there are new digital players competing for viewers. The economics continued to be challenged, so getting put on is not a given; you have to work very hard and justify to folks why they should take their hard earned programming dollars and put you on. We’ve got to keep our head down and to keep working to make sure that we’re delivering on the promise of the power of music. If we continue to do that, we will be rewarded by the audience that really is impassioned by Revolt.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.