Comcast to distribute indie nets from Magic Johnson, Diddy

As part of its mandate following its merger with NBCU, Comcast has agreed to distribute four minority-owned networks, including Johnson's Aspire and Combs' Revolt.
February 21, 2012

American cable provider Comcast has reached an agreement to distribute via its Comcast Cable systems four independently-owned, minority-backed networks, including nets owned by basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, hip-hop mogul and recording artist Sean “Diddy” Combs, and film director Robert Rodriguez.

Johnson’s Aspire network will feature “enlightening, entertaining and positive programming” geared towards African American audiences, according to a statement released by Comcast today. The net will feature a mix of movies, documentaries, short films, music, comedy, visual and performing arts, and faith and inspirational programs. It’s slated to launch by this summer.

“Aspire will celebrate our heritage, our groundbreaking achievements and the fearless talent that has shaped American culture,” said Johnson. “I’m most excited about Aspire creating opportunities for the new voices, new visions and the next generation of storytellers.”

Meanwhile, Revolt , proposed by Combs and MTV veteran Andy Schuon will feature programming inspired by music and pop culture, including videos, live performances, interviews and social media interaction between artists and fans built into its framework. It’s expected to launch in 2013.

“We’re building this platform for artists to reach an extraordinary number of people in a completely different way,” said Combs. “Revolt will be live, like all great moments in television history. Revolt will also be immediate, like today’s social networks.”

In the Hispanic category, director Robert Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures execs John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa are bringing El Rey to the mix – an English-language entertainment network for Latinos and general audiences that will feature a combination of reality programming, scripted and animated series, docs, news, music, sports and comedy,

“We engineered El Rey to address a burgeoning opportunity to deliver unique, high-quality and compelling content to a hard-to-reach demographic and are excited to bring more opportunities to generations of talent, storytellers and dreamers through this special partnership,” said Rodriguez and Fogelman. It’s expected to launch by January of 2014.

Also, Spanish TV veteran Constantino “Said” Schwarz is behind BabyFirst Americas, a network designed for infants, very small kids and their parents, and emphasizing the importance of early development of verbal, math and motor skills.

The new networks are part of a series of public service commitments connected to the NBCUniversal merger, one of which is to launch 10 independently owned and operated networks over the next eight years, which will be added on select Comcast systems as part of the digital basic tier of service.

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.