Will Diddy & Magic be able to do with their new TV channels what Oprah couldn’t with hers: Make them profitable? (PHOTOS)
In 2010, when Oprah signed off from her decades long hit ABC show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, to start her own network, she learned a painful lesson: Keeping a thriving and upstart network afloat and profitable isn’t easy!
And now hip hop pioneer, actor & business mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs and NBA veteran and successful serial entrepreneur Irving “Magic” Johnson will have their shot at trying to do what Oprah has been having a tough time doing: creating quality, innovative and interesting content that can secure high ratings and have advertisers coming back.
They will be joined by acclaimed Hollywood film producer Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Desperado) and successful business man and veteran Spanish-Language content-creator Constantino “Said” Schwartz, who will launch two new channels marketed to Hispanic viewers.
All four submitted winning proposals selected from among thousands all vying for an automatic slot on Comcast NBC Universal’s new diversity Voices channel lineup. Comcast offered to start the four channels as a deal sweetener when it sought approval from the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice to let it acquire NBC Universal last year.
Last night, all four owners, Combs (REVOLT), Johnson (ASPIRE), Rodriguez (El Rey) and Schwartz (Baby First Americas) gathered at the Newseum in Washington, DC near Capitol Hill to announce the inking of their respective deals. All of the networks will launch this year.
Before a room of power players, members of Congress, the media, lobbyists and Beltway heavy weights, each man stepped to the mic to express his gratitude for the opportunity to add diversity to the dial and bring a new option to their community.
Magic Johnson said that he and Combs have been like “little kids since this announcement” and that his “phone has been ringing non-stop” with calls from producers, actors, directors and behind the scenes people who want to be involved in the project. “We will be able to hire and give them jobs.” Johnson added.
Combs told the room that he has been humbled by the experience.
“Coming from Harlem, New York and now being here in DC and going to Howard University that is not that afar away and actually standing on this stage in front of the legendary John Lewis, Maxine Waters who my generation doesn’t thank you enough and I want to say thank you and to all the civil rights leaders and say ‘thank you, “ Combs said.
“I would be remiss without saying thank you to [BET Founder] Bob Johnson, Reginald Lewis, [NewsOne creator] Cathy Huges and Oprah Winfrey. It’s hard to know that a dream can come true unless you really see it come true,” Combs said. “Minority ownership is long overdue and today is a good day and hopefully the world will follow suit and realize in different industries that it is not diverse. I didn’t graduate Howard but I graduated from the school of common sense and so if I go to the movies every weekend and I don’t see people who look like me but every once in a while that is not common sense to me and If I turn on my TV and can’t show my kids people who look like them that doesn’t make sense.”
He gave his props to MTV which helped “break” his career, but said he hopes Revolt would be the “CNN or ESPN in music” and will be the “number one name in music,” adding “my channel is called ‘Revolt.’ The revolution will be televised!”
He said he chose music because “I’m good at…music. I have the credibility, the authenticity, the relationships and the experience… We will be live, 24 hours. If you want’ to know what your kids are watching, you can turn to Revolt to know.”
Rodgriguez, a Mexican-American, said of his new El Rey network that it will “meet the need of 2nd and 3rd generation Latinos,” noting that there is a misconception that if you have Spanish-language television, you are taking care of the Latino population out there. Second and third generation Hispanics are the fastest growing and largest growing demographic in the United States and there is nothing for them.”
Rodgriguez too said the “excitement in this has been growing for me these past couple of weeks. No longer do we have to protest the lack of diversity in television because we’ve got an outlet for that.”
Meanwhile, Schwartz said he plans to fill the wide void of programming targeting children from dual Spanish-English households. “With ‘Baby First” we hope that access to quality educational programming on our network will help children in Latino households and prepare them for school and entice a love of learning,” Schwartz said. “The content is socially relevant and aspire to create a one America where all children are learning.”
Indeed, they are filling a void and many are hopeful that the channels will be unique and won’t be filled with tired old content, movies, and shows already available on existing channels. The proof will be in the pudding and as Oprah has show, you can’t create a powerful network on your name and brand alone.
Johnson knows this fact. “At the end of the day, we still have to have great content,” while noting that he has “already met with some of the biggest actors and programmers” wanting to bring content to Aspire which will target middle class African American professionals.
Hopefully, he is also considering the plentiful lesser known fresh talent that have webisodes and are already creating content that people love and have loyal followings, such as Diary of a Single Mom and the Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl.
Combs co-signed the point, telling the other upstarts that they all have his numbers and will all need to support one another, adding “it is important for diversity that we all succeed.” True that.
Good luck with it too. God and Goddesses like Oprah know it’s a challenge. I’m sure these guys are up to the task.
We will be watching and supporting.