Sean Combs’ Revolt Media and TV is downsizing in an effort to reallocate resources and expand the scope of its content production operations.
The company that operates the music-centric Revolt TV linear cable channel is laying off about 50 employees, or about one-third of its staff, across offices in New York and Los Angeles. The plan is to reorient the content production operation to deliver a broader range of short-form and long-form content encompassing lifestyle and culture, fashion, art, comedy, and social justice. The company will concentrate most of its content operations in Los Angeles while maintaining a sales office in New York.
CEO Roma Khanna outlined the layoffs and restructuring in a memo to staffers on Tuesday.
“We will work with more outside voices, producers, and influencers while maintaining a strong editorial core in-house. We will also create a more healthy and stable business base from which we can grow. And we continue our proud record of being over 65% culturally diverse and nearly 50/50 gender balanced,” she wrote. “Change can be difficult. This move is about strength and growth. As one of a very small handful of networks owned and controlled by the African-American community, we need to ensure we remain fiscally strong so that we can continue to authentically represent the culture.”
Revolt said it plans to maintain its linear cable distribution despite the challenging business environment for stand-alone channels. The diversification of its content strategy aims to make Revolt a hip-hop lifestyle brand. The channel launched in October 2013 on the heels of Comcast’s commitment to carry 10 independently owned channels on its cable systems as a condition of acquiring NBCUniversal in 2011.
Revolt signaled its intent to change course last October when former MGM TV head Khanna joined the company as CEO. In February, former BET and Syfy channel creative exec Robyn Lattaker-Johnson was named head of content.
The linear Revolt TV channel is available in about 50 million homes. Without a stronger programming slate, Revolt will struggle to hold on to that distribution base as the pay-TV world moves toward smaller bundles.
Lattaker-Johnson told Variety in February she sees potential for comedies, game shows, and more elaborate documentary series on Revolt.
“Ultimately we need to be able to break out with a series or more as soon as possible in a way that not only reaches our core audience but goes beyond our core,” she said at the time of her appointment.
Combs remains the majority owner of Revolt Media and TV.
Here is Khanna’s full memo to Revolt staffers:
Dear REVOLT Team,
As you know, over the last few months we have been working to realign our content and brand strategy to move us towards our vision of being a leader of Hip Hop culture. We want to be a platform for diverse voices to have an authentic home. And we want to reflect the culture from within.
Some great changes are underway as we build our programming strategy and re-envision our content and social media. But to achieve our vision we still have work to do and challenges ahead.
As a part of addressing our challenges, today we implemented a very difficult decision to take action to streamline our team and operations to deliver on this new vision and to create a healthy and strong company. Effective immediately REVOLT will resize and refocus. These changes will result in the elimination of just over 50 positions in both New York and Los Angeles, across divisions of the company. We are simplifying the way we work and shifting our resources to allow us to invest in the stories we want to tell in a new way and with higher impact.
We will work with more outside voices, producers and influencers while maintaining a strong editorial core in-house. We will also create a more healthy and stable business base from which we can grow. And we continue our proud record of being over 65% culturally diverse and nearly 50/50 gender balanced.
Change can be difficult. This move is about strength and growth. As one of a very small handful of networks owned and controlled by the African American community, we need to ensure we remain fiscally strong so that we can continue to authentically represent the culture.
We are proud to be a home for diverse voices and I know we will continue to grow our platform across both TV and digital as a home for Hip Hop culture.
Today we should take a moment and thank our colleagues who have helped us get to this important time in our evolution. They are, and will remain, an important part of our story.
Tomorrow we need to wake up strong, focused, and ready for the future as we pursue our vision to be unapologetically Hip Hop. We need to offer a voice for a new generation, one that represents and serves the diverse community we live in.
I am excited to work with you all to build a strong future. Thank you for your continued hard work. Together we are going to do great things.