MTV for the spoilt generation: P Diddy is launching a music channel for the prized 'millennial' audience
Sean Combs's endeavour is one of several brand new US channels aimed explicitly at young people between the ages of roughly 13 and 33
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Sunday 20 October 2013
It's been some time since Sean Combs dominated the charts. But at the end of this month, the rapper-producer-entrepreneur known as P Diddy will launch his latest assault on the airwaves, this time with his own music TV channel.
Revolt, which Combs has described as a CNN for music, will launch in the US tomorrow. "Young people are unplugging and running to the internet. But that's because there just isn't anything engaging on TV," he said recently. Motivated in part by MTV's move away from its musical remit, the new network will feature music videos and news programmes and music documentaries, and, says Combs, "the best of rock, the best of EDM, the best of hip-hop. We may play some country music if it's funky enough … If you like good music, you finally have a home."
Combs's endeavour is one of several brand new US channels aimed explicitly at young people between the ages of roughly 13 and 33 – a bloc known as "millennials", and often derided as narcissistic, entitled, overeducated and underemployed. A key characteristic of this prized advertising demographic is their lack of interest in traditional TV.
Tara Ariano, TV critic, blogger and co-founder of Previously.TV, says: "Other than channels with a very strong brand identity, such as HBO, the average person doesn't think about shows in terms of which network they're on now. They just find the shows wherever they can: Hulu, Netflix, torrent [sites]."
In fact, it is YouTube, not television, that really draws millennial eyeballs. The teen YouTube network Awesomeness has 20 million subscribers and was recently bought by DreamWorks for $33m (£20.7m). The hottest channel of the moment is not a TV channel, but Jash, the YouTube comedy channel launched earlier this year by Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera and others. MTV's evolution, moreover, can be largely attributed to the rise of YouTube: who needs a music video TV channel, when you can watch whatever video you want, whenever you want?
Yet that has not deterred Diddy, nor the people behind three other new cable channels: the Fox-owned FXX; Fusion, an English-language network aimed at Latinos; and Pivot, the first of the four to begin broadcasting on 1 August, 31 years to the day since the launch of MTV.
Pivot is part of Participant Media, founded in 2004 by former eBay president Jeff Skoll. It is devoted to producing films with a social conscience and Pivot's president, Evan Shapiro, aims to continue that on the small screen. Among Pivot's star signings is Meghan McCain, daughter of Republican former presidential candidate John McCain.
Fusion, a joint venture by ABC and the Spanish-language network Univision, launches on 28 October.
FXX, which launched in September, is focused on feeding comedy staples, such as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, starring Danny DeVito, to 16- to 34-year-olds.
For now, UK-based millennials will have to make do without these new, tailored networks, although they may be able to see some of the highlights – on YouTube.
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