Thoughts on Revolt TV + Intellectual Property.
- Shower Thought
- The REVOLT Will Be Televised
- Around The World
1. EDITOR’S NOTE
Brainstorms suck. Is that controversial? Ok, maybe the idea of brainstorming itself doesn’t suck, but how they’re traditionally run in the cultural industries absolutely does.
With rare exceptions, most billion-dollar ideas don’t come to brands in 30 mins or less, neatly wrapped into a video call featuring no less than 4 people. Participants have no chance to actually think about anything other than the meeting they just came out of and the meeting they have next…and what they’re doing for dinner, and their friend’s bday card they have to get…
How can we keep expecting great ideas to arrive in the time it takes a delivery pizza to get to your house?
If you want more profundities where that came from…
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2. THE REVOLT WILL BE TELEVISED
A few weeks back I listened to an enlightening interview on Trapital with Detavio Samuels, the current CEO of REVOLT, the digital cable television network founded in 2013 by Sean Combs.
This is worth a listen by anyone who works in media, regardless of where you work. It’s always a delight to get thoughtful insight and analysis about a company’s digital strategy… but I think that there’s a few opportunities that Revolt is uniquely suited to take advantage of that are just being missed.
Let’s start with the positives.
Revolt’s shift to social justice-focused issues is a perfect example of a brand putting their money where their mouth is —remember when every brand on Earth made lists like “300+ Black people we could find on Google over the last 3 hours” a year ago?—instead of servicing merely words, thoughts, and prayers. They’ve dedicated a section of their site to updates in the space, thus providing an alternative to the Twitter feed, should people want one.
They’ve also struck gold by broadcasting insanely successful shows like Drink Champs, The Breakfast Club, and The Fat Joe Show. Yes, all of these shows exist in other formats, but this is syndication for the modern era, and the message is clear: The future of TV is slow internet.
That is, internet content that is not as immediate as the timeline, but in exchange for the delay in immediacy, there’s either curation (long-winded interviews are cut down to digestible clips, for example) or a summarization (for those who might not want to sit through a 2-hour podcast).
The network is also home to one of the biggest What If’s in media today: State of the Culture. It’s the heir to Complex’s long-abdicated Everyday Struggle morning “talk” show. That show was a success because it mirrored the energy and intensity of 80’s and 90s New York radio, but in a new digital format. State of the Culture is a better version of Everyday Struggle, and that’s mostly because of the hosts.
Before I move on to the negatives/room for improvement, here’s what Dan from Trapital had to say about the interview. More specifically, why he even interviewed the Revolt CEO in the first place.
“REVOLT’s one of the most interesting media companies given its digital focus and its struggles in the cable business. This was an opportunity to talk…about his vision.”
Now, about that vision: I think there have been some significant missed opportunities within REVOLT’s portfolio. The first has to do with ignoring the past.
Opportunity 1: Embrace the Alternative(s)
Those who have only a basic understanding of the realities around Black-owned television stations and programs shouldn’t be shocked to hear that this medium experiences the same struggles as Black-owned businesses in nearly every other cultural sector; less resources, and less advertising revenue.
Gone are the days where a network like BET could flourish thanks to the goodwill of the music industry and its advertising revenue alone. Revolt has taken the steps to firmly plant itself as a Black-owned and Black-focused brand, why not double down on that by building out a lineup of the best and biggest alternative media (think podcasts, IG Live videos, audio chat software like Clubhouse or Twitter Space) in the culture?
- African Americans spend more time per week streaming audio, including podcast listening, than the total U.S. population.
- In a typical week, almost half (49%) of African American podcast listeners spend about 1 to 4 hours listening to podcasts.
Where I’d start:
- Partner with the Joe Budden Network to bring it’s collection of podcasts to TV for the first time. Bringing the JBP to a platform would give Revolt an anchor show that would give them significant leverage into the rabid—albeit now splintered—community around the pod. This would also give a way bigger platform to JBN shows like See The Thing Is, and Girl, I Guess. Speaking of that split…
- Revolt is a platform, and as we’re continually being told, platforms are agnostic. That’s why I feel like Revolt should partner with Kevin Durant’s Boardroom to bring Rory & Mal to Revolt as well. They don’t have to mingle with Joe at any point, but a deal with them would allow for a Greatest Hits of the JBP program to run, introducing the show to a new audience, and benefiting all parties involved.
- Don’t stop there, though: Revolt should embrace Twitch specifically and become an innovator on the platform by presenting an authentic experience via an entirely unique corner of the market.
Long story short, what worked before isn’t gonna work today. Runcie agrees.
“It’s hard for any network to recreate popular programming from the late 90s and early 2000s. Music video countdown shows don’t work anymore. How many times has MTV tried to bring back TRL? Modern media companies need modern approaches to programming.”
Opportunity 2: I.P.R.E.A.M.
To update the Wu-Tang classic, I’d suggest we change it to…
Intellectual Property Rules Everything Around Me.
The future is all about content that is owned by specific platforms and creators. If they took the opportunity to leverage partnerships and build stronger original content series by investing in those in their current lineup that are just starting to generate a devoted audience, Revolt could become the home of the next breakthrough content hit.
This move should be familiar to the good folks over at Combs Enterprises: Revolt could essentially act as A+R for the next Issa Rae or Tyler Perry by giving them the tools to take their popular content to the next level, likely for a lesser investment than they’d have to cough up down the line.
Opportunity 3: Own The Niche
While we’re still a minority, the # of Black Americans are growing. As our society becomes more diversified—in a reality where the “mainstream” belongs to no one—REVOLT could become an iconic network solely by focusing on the “niche” that is Black advertisers across the cultural industries. No one expects REVOLT to spend their way into market share dominance, but considering the table scraps most media organizations give to the community, a focused and laser-sharp content strategy aimed at Black Americans throughout the age ranges would provide an immediate upswing in revenue and garnered attention. The blinders would have to go on and would likely lead to a lot of external criticism, but if anyone can ignore the haters and create a new media experience for the culture, it’s REVOLT.
Black networks are hip-hop networks by default, but we need to think bigger.
3. AROUND THE WORLD
- The creator economy is in crisis. Now let’s fix it.
- The Pandemic Was Office Culture’s “God Is Dead” Moment
- How Beeple Crashed the Art World. From March, relevant as NFT’s enter the conversation again. You should also read my article about NFT’s.
- Micropayments work in this very specific situation
And as always…
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