Comcast Strikes Indy Network Deal
As part of its agreement to acquire a majority stake in NBCUniversal, Comcast has announced the first in a series of distribution deals for independently owned networks.
The first four include networks headed up by entertainment entrepreneurs Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Robert Rodriguez, and Constantino “Said” Schwarz. All will be put on Comcast's digital basic tier of service.
El Rey will be a new Hispanic-American network, coming from film director Robert Rodriguez, positioned as an entertainment network in English for Latino and general audiences. There will be a mix of reality, scripted and animated series, movies, documentaries, news, music, comedy, and sports programming. It will start January 2014 on Comcast.
Johnson's network -- called Aspire, in partnership with GMC TV-- will cater to African-American families, with movies, documentaries, short films, music, comedy, visual and performing arts, and faith and inspirational programming. Aspire will begin in the summer 2012.
Combs' effort is Revolt, a new music channel. Working with former MTV executive Andy Schuon, Revolt will be designed for music and pop culture -- music videos, live performances, news and interviews. The network plans to begin in 2013 on Comcast systems.
BabyFirst Americas, from Spanish-language TV network executive Constantino “Said” Schwarz, is for infants, young children and their parents, all to develop early verbal, math and motor skills. The network has entered into an agreement to launch by April 2012.
For its NBCUniversal deal commitment, Comcast, which has some 23 million U.S. subscribers, said it would launch 10 new independently owned-and-operated networks over the next eight years.
Of the 10 networks, four will be majority African-American-owned, two will be majority American Latino-owned, two will be operated by American Latino programmers and two will provide additional independent programming.