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For Us By Us : Revolt to Release Ad-Supported Streaming Service Focused on Black Culture

In the past few years, many TV networks have been working to edge out Netflix and Hulu as the front running streaming service. In 2020 alone many different streaming services came to the forefront causing Netflix to cancel many popular shows like the Office. Well, Revolt is next up as they plan to launch a free, ad-supported-direct-to-consumer streaming app on connected TV platforms during the first quarter of 2021.

COO and Co-head of Revolt, Detavio Samuels, stated that the first release will be somewhat of a test drive as they will decide whether or not to add a paid subscription tier by the end of the year. This decision came forth through a willingness to diversify the Revolt business model past tradition TV or podcasts and increase their independence outside of affiliate revenue that pay-TV providers. “All of the data that we’re seeing is that that MVPD affiliate business will be cut in half by 2024. So that basically gives everybody three years to decide what your new strategy is or to have your new strategy built and working. So that was also a key trigger for us. It’s go time,” said Samuels, who noted that Revolt began developing the app around August last year.

Since Revolt debuted their app for its Revolt Summit event, this coming streaming app will be the second DTC property. The Summit Event had to be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a video series leading up to the summit that viewers could stream without charge on the events app. According to the head of production at Revolt, Cherisse McKenzie, the Summit gave them a “good test run” for the coming streaming app.

Revolt is not the first nor will they be the last TV network to shift their sights into streaming, they have to be able to distinguish themselves from the competition. The main quality that Revolt has over their competition is that they are focused on Black Culture. There are very few places where Black people can go to consume exclusively Black content.

Revolts TV channel released in October of 2013 and a music focused network and just two years ago the company narrowed their focus even further to Hip-Hop music. Staying on top of what their audience wanted, Revolt adjusted their strategy to emphasize social justice after seeing the way black people were affected by the pandemic and the civil unrest following the death of George Floyd. The company set a goal to have at least 50% of their content social justice related. “When we made the pivot, we actually did 100% social justice content for June and we saw the highest growth numbers across every platform we’ve ever seen: dot-com, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, all of that,” Samuels said.

There are a few programs that Revolt would want to sell to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and NBC Universals’ Peacock such as the very popular “The Breakfast Club”. Having to reduce their crew sizes from 20-30 people to just one or two person teams, Revolts production employees that have specialized in one area have had to become multifaceted. “After Covid, we scaled up and did four new full-length [shows], and then this year we pretty much have a slate of eight to nine new ones,” McKenzie stated.