Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Earvin "Magic" Johnson will be hosts and owners of new cable channels which Comcast (and maybe others) will launch later this year and early next.
Two new channels geared to the Hispanic audience - one with direction by the legendary Hollywood film director Robert Rodriguez - are also in the Comcast pipeline.
P.Diddy's music-themed service Revolt aims to give the likes of BET and MTV a run for the money, combining urban-slanted artists and news with a social networking component. "We're coming with a new energy, we're coming with something that people are going to want to tune in to see," shared the media mogul with an MTV reporter recently. Though best known for his rap hits, P. Diddy's Bad Boy Entertainment has also produced hit cable shows like "Making the Band." Revolt will launch in 2013.
"Magic" Johnson's new enterprise Aspire, arriving this Summer, will be "a network that encourages and challenges African-Americans to reach for their dreams and will appeal to all generations," said its founder. "Aspire will celebrate our heritage, our groundbreaking achievements and the fearless talent that has shaped American culture. " While best known, of course, for his basketball glories, Johnson also owns a string of self-named movie theaters.
News of Revolt and Aspire first leaked last night. This morning, Comcast officially announced 'em, plus two new channels addressed to the Hispanic audience.
El Ray, proposed by director Rodriguez and the team at FactoryMade Ventures, is designated as "an action-packed general entertainment network in English for Latin and general audiences that includes a mix of reality, scripted and animated series, movies, documentaries, news, music, comedy and sports programming." Fleshing out this ambitious project will hold back the launch until January 2014.
BabyFirst Americas, developed by Spanish language television veteran Constantino "Said" Schwarz, is for infants, young children and their parents, with an emphasis on honing early development of verbal, math and motor skills. It arrives this April.
All four launches are part of the pledge package that cable giant Comcast made with the federal government, to win approval for the takeover of NBC/Universal. In all, Comcast will allocate channel space to 10 new independent "multii-cultural" channels, six of them majority owned by Hispanics and African-Americans, over the next eight years.
Comcast's Internet Essentials agenda - bringing low-cost internet service and computers to needy school children - also came out of those good faith negotiations with the Fed.
Not every Comcast cable service will get the new channels, hinted P. Diddy's publicist. Some older Comcast systems have smaller channel capacity, a situation the operator hopes to improve by eliminating the basic tier of non-scrambled (cable box-free) digital channels, a controversial change requiring an FCC waiver.
Time Warner Cable, the nation's second largest cable provider, is in "discussions" to carry at least the Revolt channel, spokeswoman Maureen Huff said yesterday.