Cable Operators

Comcast to Diddy, Magic: Action!

2/27/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Now that Comcast has unveiled agreements
with four minority-owned independent networks,
the question is: Can they make it in the cold hard world of
cable network newbies?

Support from the largest cable operator
in the U.S. will help. Comcast struck
deals with a pair of English-language services
aimed at Latinos and channels from
Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and Earvin “Magic”
Johnson.”

Comcast pledged to add 10 independent
minority networks as a condition of its deal
with General Electric to form the NBCUniversal
joint venture. The nation’s largest
cable operator said it came to the decision
after evaluating more than 100
proposals.

The services — BabyFirst Americas, Aspire,
Revolt and El Rey — are scheduled
to debut between this April and January
2014. It’s unclear what level of distribution
the quartet will receive on Comcast Cable
systems.

“Comcast is committed to delivering
programming that reflects the interests
of our customers, and we look forward to
integrating these great networks into our
rich programming lineup,” Comcast executive
vice president David Cohen said in
a statement.

Coming out of the box first in April is
BabyFirst Americas. From Spanish-language
television veteran Constantino “Said” Schwarz,
BabyFirst Americas is designed for infants, very young children,
and their parents, and emphasizes the importance of
early development of verbal, math and motor skills.

Johnson’s Aspire is slated to follow this summer. In
partnership with GMC, which will provide an assist with
affiliate sales and marketing, Aspire aspires to deliver enlightening,
entertaining and positive programming to African-
Americans families, including movies, documentaries,
short films, music, comedy, visual and performing arts, and
faith and inspirational programs.

Proposed by music superstar and entrepreneur Combs
and MTV veteran Andy Schuon, Revolt will present programming
inspired by music and pop culture, including
music videos, live performances,
music news and interviews, and
will incorporate social media interaction
for music artists and
fans. The network has entered
into an agreement to launch in
2013.

Eyeing a January 2014 rollout,
El Rey, from Hollywood director
Robert Rodriguez and Factory-
Made Ventures executives John
Fogelman and Cristina Patwa,
aims to be an action-packed general-
entertainment service showcasing
a mix of reality, scripted
and animated series, movies, documentaries,
news, music, comedy
and sports programming. El Rey
will include programming that
features Hispanic producers, celebrities
and public figures.

The cable company did not say
how broad the distribution would
be, but said all 10 independent
networks it has planned to add
by 2018 as part of its deal with the
government will be added to the
digital basic tier on “select Comcast
systems.”

March