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Upfronts / Newfronts

Nobody Likes to Be Called Millennial: Sean Combs Makes Revolt Upfront Pitch

Network Introduces Viewing App, Stands Out From Upfront Blur

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Diddy in a Fiat ad cross-promoting Revolt.
Diddy in a Fiat ad cross-promoting Revolt.

With three weeks still to go before the biggest TV networks make their upfront pitches to ad buyers, other channels' look-alike, sound-alike presentations have already started to blur together. But Revolt TV's first upfront bash on Tuesday night was not the industry's typical fare.

Network co-owner Sean "Diddy" Combs took the stage at Marquee night club, flashcards in hand and asking the audience to bear with him. "I am more comfortable in a crowd dancing," he said, adding that his version of an upfront is a concert. Because Revolt, which began in October, was created from the onset with digital platforms as well as TV in mind, Mr. Combs said the event would be better called an "omnifront" in any case.

While Revolt is designed to target the millennial demographic, Mr. Combs added that "millennial" is an un-relatable term. "Millennial shit is whack," he said. "No one likes to be called that." Instead, Mr. Combs is calling his target viewers "young people."

Repeating an argument he's made before, Mr. Combs compared Revolt to CNN and ESPN, saying he wants his network to be for music what they are for news and sports. It can also be a guide for marketers that need to know what's relevant, he said. "We are the middleman that identifies the artists you should align with," Mr. Combs told ad buyers in the crowd.

Mr. Combs then essentially compared Revolt to Apple and Google, urging advertisers to "join the party" while the business is still on the ground floor: "If you had a chance to invest in Apple when they were in a garage, or Google, wherever they were when they invented that shit because that shit is crazy ...."

"I am giving you inside information," he added. "This isn't a public company so no one is going to jail." The comparison between buying a stake in a future tech colossus and buying ads from a small cable channel isn't perfect, but at least it wasn't the usual upfront party formula.

Mr. Combs called out the network's early partnership with Beats, which he said has been a sponsor from day one. Anheuser-Busch, Fiat and AT&T have also bought time on the channel.

Mr. Combs brought out a full cast of executives, including CEO Keith Clinkscales; Andy Schuon, president and co-founder; Vice Chairman Andre Harrell; Val Boreland, exec VP-programming and strategy; and Jake Katz, VP-audience insights and strategy. But Mr. Combs returned to the stage several times throughout the presentation to lend his thoughts.

The key announcement of the evening was a new Revolt app that lets users watch Revolt live, access videos on demand, set programming reminders, read breaking news and watch the new digital series "Making the Brand," a series of digital shorts recorded over the past two years about the formation of the network.

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