×

Listen: Revolt CEO Roma Khanna on Expanding Sean Combs’ Media Business

Sean Combs’ Revolt TV was birthed in 2013 as a part of a media mega-merger. Comcast’s 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal was approved by federal regulators with the condition that the cable giant offer valuable real estate on its cable systems to 10 new independently owned cable channels.

Without that initial launch pad, Revolt’s linear TV and digital content business would not likely exist today. Roma Khanna, the MGM and NBCUniversal alum who has headed Revolt as CEO since 2017, said the Comcast carriage deal offered an important leg up, but only to the first rung of the ladder. Khanna is focused now on expanding the scope of Revolt beyond hip-hop music videos to encompass comedy and lifestyle programming.

On the latest episode of Variety podcast “Strictly Business,” Khanna is candid about the challenges of running an independent outfit at a time when the pay TV marketplace is dominated by giants. The Comcast-NBCU deal provided a unique entry point for an entrepreneur such as Combs, but to seed a strong independent media company takes a lot more than carriage. Revolt still does not have full distribution even on Comcast’s cable systems, she noted.

“The idea of trying to embrace diversity and create an equal-opportunity playing field for (diverse) voices to proliferate really runs in to a problem when it’s the first step of a 100-step race,” Khanna said. “The next 99 steps also need support.”

During the wide-ranging conversation, Khanna addresses the growth strategy that she describes as “super-serving a super-niche audience” to make Revolt’s linear and digital content offerings a hub for all things hip-hop. She also reflects on getting the chance to work with a truly diverse management after years of “being the only woman or one of a small handful of women in the room, and almost exclusively the only woman of color.”

“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. New episodes debut every Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Pod Save America Hosts on Trump

    'Pod Save America' Hosts on Trump, the Democratic Primary and What's Wrong With Cable News

    Like many Democrats, Tanya Somanader was blindsided by the 2016 presidential election. A veteran of the Obama White House and a former speechwriter and digital specialist for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Somanader was gearing up for a Hillary Clinton administration. Instead, she had to grapple with the reality of a Donald Trump presidency. “A lot [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Warner Bros

    Ann Sarnoff Formally Takes Reins of Warner Bros. as CEO

    The Ann Sarnoff era at Warner Bros. has begun. Sarnoff formally took the reins as Warner Bros. chair-CEO on Thursday, two months after she was appointed to the post. Sarnoff told employees in a memo that she has been impressed by the company’s track record during the past year amid a period of upheaval for [...]

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein (L)

    Harvey Weinstein to Be Arraigned on New Indictment

    Harvey Weinstein is set to appear in court on Monday for an arraignment on a new indictment, the Manhattan D.A.’s office said Thursday. Prosecutors announced last week that they would seek a fresh indictment, which would allow actress Annabella Sciorra to testify at Weinstein’s trial. The move came after Justice James Burke ruled on Aug. [...]

  • AI Technology David Beckham

    How AI Tech Is Changing Dubbing, Making Stars Like David Beckham Multilingual

    David Beckham does not speak Arabic, Hindi or Mandarin. But when the soccer legend starred in a PSA for malaria awareness this spring, he effortlessly switched among these and six other languages, thanks to cutting-edge technology that could soon change how Hollywood localizes its movies and TV shows. The PSA in question was produced with technology [...]

  • Eminem’s Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Copyright

    Eminem’s Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Massive Copyright Infringement

    Eminem’s publishing company Eight Mile Style filed a major copyright infringement lawsuit against Spotify late Thursday, claiming that the streaming giant has no license to host about 250 of Eminem’s songs, while also taking aim at the Music Modernization Act, the federal law enacted last year to improve royalty payments for songwriters. The news was [...]

  • iQIYI headquarters building in Beijing

    China’s iQIYI in Talks for Indonesia Expansion

    Chinese streaming firm iQIYI is in negotiations to expand further into Southeast Asia through a venture with Indonesia’s Media Nusantara Citra. iQIYI announced its first step outside Chinese-majority territories in June, when it revealed a linkup in Malaysia with pay-TV leader Astro. It also operates in Taiwan. In April, the company said that it planned [...]

  • Spotify logo is presented on a

    Spotify Triples Free-Trial Period on Premium Service

    Spotify today extended the free-trial period for its Premium service from one month to three, tripling the amount of time listeners can take full advantage of the streaming giant’s offerings without paying for them. According to the announcement, the offer is “always-on/not limited time,” and will roll out across Spotify Premium plans globally: Individual and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content