A Network Worth Diddy Squat

It was yet another story of a change in management and direction of a struggling media company that VARIETY’s Ethan Shanfield authored yesterday, the kind that have become commonplace in recent years in an industry filled with underrealized expectations, splintering and the resulting necessity of truncation.  This one offered an opportunistic twist for its rank and file to become, at least on paper, the ones in charge:

Today, we are most proud of the transformation that our teams will experience as they shift from being employees to owners of the business they are helping to build,” said CEO Detavio Samuels in a statement. He added, “Without question, they deserve participation in our growth – and I could not be more honored to continue on this journey with them, leveraging our collective strength, pushing boundaries, and achieving new heights together.”

Current employees will become the largest shareholder group, The New York Times reportsEmployee participation will be allocated over the coming months(.)  The change in ownership comes after various reports of big-money investors seeking to buy stake(s) in the company.

Were this say, Paramount or Warner Brothers Discovery, this would be revolutionary.  Were this even a one-off like Game Show Network or FUSE, it would be at least be reason for celebration.  But this one is about a decade-plus-old network that has never achieved reportable viewership and a change that has resulted because its CEO happens to be more than a bit preoccupied at the moment, as yes, we did indeed bury Shanfield’s lead:

Revolt has announced a new ownership structure after its founder, Sean “Diddy” Combs, stepped aside as chairman of the television and media company.

As Shanfield finally explained at article’s end, Diddy was effectively the boss in name only at this point:

Combs exited Revolt in November 2023 following a rape accusation from former girlfriend Casandra Ventura, better known as the R&B star Cassie, who recorded for Combs’ Bad Boy record label. Cassie accused Combs of raping and beating her over the course of a decade; Combs denied the allegations. In May, CNN released footage leaked from surveillance cameras that appears to depict Combs violently assaulting Cassie in a Los Angeles hotel. Combs admitted to “inexcusable” behavior in a video statement posted to Instagram, saying, “I take full responsibility for my actions in that video.” In the past several months, Combs has been hit with several other lawsuits and sexual misconduct allegations.

Several?  FORBES’ Antonio Pequeño IV  and Mary Whitfill Roeloffs might have chosen a somewhat more accurate word, such as “many”.  Here’s the list beyond Ventura they unfolded in a recap article they dropped last week:

Rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs’ accusers may soon testify before a federal grand jury and have already been interviewed by investigators, sources told CNN, days after he was hit with his seventh civil sexual assault lawsuit in less than a year—all of which he has denied.

May 24 : Plaintiff April Lampros accuses Combs in a lawsuit filed in New York on Thursday of sexual assault over four “terrifying sexual encounters” between 1995 and 2001, including three incidents of rape and one instance of Combs forcing her to take ecstasy.

May 22: Former model Crystal McKinney files a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court accusing the rapper of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his New York recording studio in 2003.

February 26: (P)roducer Rodney “Lil Rod” Jones sues the rapper in New York in February and alleges he was “subjected to unwanted advances by associates of Diddy at his direction” and was forced to engage in relations with sex workers he hired. In a set of widely covered allegations, Jones says in the lawsuit that Combs regularly hosted “sex-trafficking parties” with underage women and illegal drugs.

December 6: Combs is hit with another sexual assault suit in December, accusing the rapper of drugging and participating in a gang rape of the unnamed woman in 2003, when the accuser was 17 years old.

November 23: A woman named Joie Dickerson-Neal alleges in a lawsuit Combs drugged her, sexually assaulted her and secretly recorded the assault while she was a college student in 1991.  AND: An anonymous plaintiff accuses Combs and singer-songwriter Aaron Hall of raping her and a friend in 1990 or 1991 after meeting at an MCA Records event in New York—a suit that, like the Dickerson-Neal complaint, was filed shortly before the expiration of a New York law temporarily allowing lawsuits for older assault allegations that would ordinarily be past the statute of limitations.

Combs had the opportunity to become a media mogul thanks to Comcast’s willingness to literally bend over backwards to accommodate the demands of an Obama-era FCC, in particular the maverick Los Angeles advocate Maxine Waters, and at the time was part of an impressive list of entrepreneurs who benefitted from it, as THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Marisa Guthrie reported in February 2012:

Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider with more than 22 million subscribers, will distribute networks owned by NBA superstar Magic Johnson, musical artist and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs and Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez. The announcement came Tuesday from David L. Cohen, executive vp of Comcast Corporation.

The minority-backed networks are part of a pledge made by Comcast during its efforts to win government approval for its controlling stake in NBC Universal.

Combs will partner with MTV veteran Andy Schuon on Revolt, which will showcase music and pop culture programming including music videos, live performances, news and interviews with a robust social media component. The network has targeted to launch in 2013.

Revolt, said Combs, “is the first channel created entirely from the ground up in this new era of social media. We’re building this platform for artists to reach an extraordinary number of people in a completely different way. Revolt will be live, like all great moments in television history.”

Combs was front and center at several cable indusry events and panels during the ramp-up, showing an almost insatiable willingness to hype and promote. He willingly posed for photo ops with those “giddy for Diddy”, let alone hundreds of executives who couldn’t identify a note of any of his numerous rap hits.  I never got one myself; the lines were perpetually too long.

He did have a knack for attracting quality people to his camp even beyond the esteemed Schuon.  One was a former staffer of mine who was recruited as a hybrid researcher and account executive.  Out of the blue, she called me and asked if I could help her vet a demonstration data file that Nielsen supplied her in the hopes of winning her business.  She was pregnant with her first child at the time and just didn’t have the bandwidth to pick it apart and hunt for positive stories the way she once did for a start-up network she somehow was able to craft a narrative for when she worked on my team.

When I looked at the tens of thousands of rows of numbers and saw mostly single-digit entries, I knew there was even less to work with here.  When I worked my way back to the top row where the column labels were, I noticed an (x,xxx) next to where the demographic abbreviations were, in a place where we’d normally see (0,000).  In Nielsen-speak, that means that where one would normally see, say a 6, that would mean 6000 viewers.  In this case, that 6 literally meant that a show or a daypart had SIX viewers.

Once she recovered from the shock, I offered her a narrative that placed the blame on Nielsen’s inability to accurately measure start-up networks with limited footprints, that it didn’t include any viewing on a device–you know, everything that Nielsen still can’t completely do and did far less of at the time.

But speaking of being incapable of progress, check out what NET WORTH SPOT says as of MAY 2024 is Revolt’s ONLINE presence:

With 2.75 million subscribers, REVOLT is a popular channel on YouTube.

It’s likely you and I personally know content creators with larger counts.

And as for all of those grandiose expectations of live content, there’s not a single second of anything live on today’s schedule.

NET WORTH also put a dollar figure on what they thought the actual value of the platform is based on the available information they use to calculate it:

Our website’s industry expertise suspects REVOLT’s net worth at $2.25 million, that said, REVOLT’s actualized net worth is not publicly available.

However, some people have estimated that REVOLT’s net worth might truly be higher than that. Considering these additional sources of income, REVOLT may be worth closer to $3.15 million.

Feel free to insert a Doctor Evil meme just about now.

Which considering what else Diddy may have been doing while supposedly trying to build Revolt into something real would be an insult even to the likes of Doctor Evil.

Consider what KCAL News reported in 2015:

Hip hop music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs was arrested at the University of California, Los Angeles campus after he allegedly swung a kettlebell at an assistant coach for the football team.

According to TMZ.com, Combs was confronting the coach for allegedly yelling at his son Justin Combs, a defensive back on the team, during a workout session on Sunday.

Or what ALL HIP HOP reported last month:

Conspiracy theories surrounding the 1996 murder of legendary MC Tupac Shakur might be edging closer to resolution as arrest rumors swirl around Diddy.

The key to the potential breakthrough? A million-dollar check that could implicate the rap titan in one of music’s most infamous crimes. Gene Deal, a former confidant of Diddy, recently ignited speculation during an appearance on The Art of Dialogue. Deal spoke about how the FBI’s intense investigation might soon corner Diddy, shining a light on a labyrinthine money trail.

Or what BILLBOARD’s Hannah Dailey reported just yesterday:

(I)n a new clip from Diddy’s Downfall shared exclusively with Billboard, Tiffany Red, a friend of Cassie Ventura – the singer who dated Combs on and off for about a decade until 2018 and alleged he sexually and physically abused her during their relationship in a now-resolved lawsuit – provides first-hand accounts of how the Bad Boy Records founder allegedly made the people in his circle feel. “My sense was that everybody around him was afraid of him,” Red tells ABC News’ Byron Pitts. “He’s explosive.”

And I’m not even going down the rabbit holes some good friends of mine insist I do where even more incendiary claims are made.  If you’re so inclined, check out this one.  Caveat emptor.

What I choose to focus on is results and promises of success, not Ferraris and mansions.  And to just about everyone who hopped on the Revolt train when it left the station with far more optimism and an open playing field that it has now, they learned the hard way who not to trust.

Years after my friend reached out for my counsel, her former boss, now a partner in a streaming measurement start-up, called on me in the pious hope I might have a spare million or so of Sony’s mony to invest in his business.  While politely turning him down, I asked how my former staffer was doing.  He confessed that he had lost touch with her shortly after she chose not to return after her maternity leave.  When I remarked that I knew she was harboring thoughts of becoming a mom even when she was interning for me, he quipped “That wasn’t the reason she decided not to come back”.  When I tried to probe what it may have been, he only offered “All of us who were there are legally obligated not to say anything about why we parted ways”.

So good luck, Revolt employees.  You’ve got a LOT of ground to make up.

Until next time…




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