Regardless of what moniker you know him by, you know that Sean Combs is ambitious. After venturing into hip-hop, fashion, film and business, just about everything is up for grabs with Diddy. Including his own television station.
Diddy will launch REVOLT, a music channel with a slant toward youthful audiences, in October after finalizing a national carriage agreement with Time Warner and Comcast. REVOLT will appear in more than 25 million homes and, despite its status as a startup station, should immediately hit the ground running with star-studded lineups and enthused teenage demographics. At first glance, REVOLT looks like nothing more than an MTV spinoff vanity project. Beyond everything that could go wrong, however, lies a lot of potential for right.
It's no secret that there hasn't been much "music" in music television. The most popular channels to claim the niche feature plenty of programming that has little, if anything to do with music, while those that do dedicate entirely to music tend to either narrow into one genre or rehash archaic content. REVOLT will be, as Diddy says, a home for musically-minded millennials, regardless of background or preferred genre.
"If it’s music you want, and you are a millennial, you are homeless," he noted on his summer press tour with the Television Critics of America. "You have nowhere to go. You are out there all alone … But that is no more."
Diddy compares the niche nature of his station to that of ESPN, CNN or FOX. REVOLT will have some music television experience, as seasoned MTV vet Andy Schuon is signed on as an executive. It will also be paving the way for other stations of the 140-character era, incorporating what a release calls "a robust social media component" to accompany music videos, news, interviews and live performances. REVOLT has the backing of two of the nation's most powerful television conglomerates and the charisma of one of hip-hop's biggest stars ever, but still has the nascent enthusiasm and dedication of a small indie channel.
"Sometimes it's better to do one thing great," Diddy said of MTV and other music television networks crossing over to other programming. "The most powerful thing that brings us together is music." Combs acknowledges the Internet-obsessed audience he has, and he's more than willing to play off that.
Diddy has emphasized the importance of live TV and the power of the viewer (not the record labels or A&Rs) in music television. While we can eventually expect some of these manifestos to be broken, the fact remains that REVOLT is the first station being founded explicitly for millennials.
REVOLT could be exactly what its title implies: A takeover of how television should be, for the demographic that watches more television than any other. The jury's still out on the execution, but with Diddy's ambition, clout and bank roll, the "music" could be back in music television before we know it.