Revolt CEO details how the network is 'winning' and reinvesting into the Black community

Revolt Media and TV CEO Detavio Samuels joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the network's growth, partnerships with companies like Target and Comcast, and its 'Bet on Black' pitch competition series.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, as Black History Month kicks into high gear, we are spotlighting one media company that has seen explosive growth over recent years. Revolt TV was founded by Sean Diddy Combs back in 2013, with a focus on educating, inspiring, and uplifting the next generation through the power of hip hop. Today, the network reaches 55 million households with exclusive interview shows-- interviews, shows, and news coverage.

Let's bring in Detavio Samuels. He is the TV-- Revolt Media and TV CEO joining us from LA. Detavio, it's great to talk to you today. We're coming off of a year where there has been so much attention, a big push to support Black-owned businesses, Black-owned media like yourself. What kind of growth have you seen as a result of that?

DETAVIO SAMUELS: Yeah, what I would say is the last year has truly been phenomenal for Revolt. Revolt as a brand is absolutely on fire. And we're winning on every aspect that you can imagine. So if you think about it financially, last year, we saw triple digit growth on our advertising business. You see what's happening in terms of cord cutting with the cable business, yet Revolt had the biggest year in the history of our cable affiliate business. We doubled our EBITDA last year. And while doing all of that, we still managed to triple our investment in content, grow our employee base by almost 50%. So you can just see that the business is working from a financial perspective.

It also happened with the culture. So we are getting and we are booking and we are doing shows with the biggest names in the business, the biggest names in hip hop. We also saw triple digit growth across all of our viewership metrics when you look at things like YouTube, our website, and social media. And then lastly, the last place for me where I would just want to talk about growing and winning that matters is we're also winning with our reinvestment into the community. So much of the story that we tell is about how you invest in Black media, and that money then gets reinvested back into the community.

As an example, we did a phenomenal commercial with Frito-Lay last year. We took 100% of the production budget, gave it back to others. We built a team that was 100% creative-- Black creatively. And then 91% of that money went to Black-owned businesses. And so we're winning with our P&L. We're winning with the culture. And we're winning with the type of investment back into our community that matters to us.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Hey, Detavio. It's Brian Cheung here. Fantastic numbers that you've got there. I'm wondering what type of content are you putting out there that makes Revolt TV Revolt? Because it's a pretty crowded landscape just in the streaming space, broadly. I understand that you have a new show that you're working on called "Bet on Black." It's a entrepreneurship program. Tell us a little bit more about what that's bringing to the table and kind of how that exemplifies the other types of content that you hope to put out there in the future.

DETAVIO SAMUELS: Yeah, "Bet on Black" is a phenomenal show for us that I'm super excited about. We did it in partnership and in collaboration with Target, who has been a phenomenal partner. One of the things that Revolt is passionate about is trying to put a dent in the world in many of the places where there are inequities in our culture and in our world.

One of those places is clearly entrepreneurship, right? Black entrepreneurs struggle and are starved through every aspect of the entrepreneurship process. We come from families who have lower net worth, so it makes raising money in the angel states more difficult. We're less likely to get loans from banks. Only 1% of VC money flows into Black-owned businesses and companies.

And so there's definitely an issue of systemic racism. And so we partnered with Target to shift all of that. And so "Bet on Black" is simply a Black "Shark Tank," where we are spotlighting, celebrating, showcasing Black entrepreneurs, giving them mentoring, coaching, and capital without taking any equity, right? That's the type of work that Revolt is super excited about. And so you'll start to see more, what we're calling those kind of equity plays, roll out throughout the year.

The other side of the business and the other way that we think about it is while the rest of the world goes and looks for great shows and then tries to find talent to put in it, Revolt has much more of a music label model. We find the voices in hip hop that need to be amplified and celebrated. We pull them in the lab and then we create shows with them. So we let hip hop talk. If they want to talk about mental illness, technology, fashion, all the things that hip hop touches, we're giving them permission to talk about on Revolt. That's essentially our strategy, and it's working.

AKIKO FUJITA: Detavio, who's your core audience? I mean, you're clearly highlighting not just success stories in the Black community. You just talked about a new show here. We've also talked about shows that are focused around hip hop. But I imagine you've got an audience that goes beyond the core community, right? What's the strategy here in terms of expanding beyond that?

DETAVIO SAMUELS: Yes, so I'll talk about our audience in three ways. So when we think about our design target, we think about an audience that is young, gifted, and Black. And so we are designing towards that 22-year-old, 23-year-old, 24-year-old young Black kid that aspires to be the next P. Diddy, wants to be the next media mogul, aspires to be the next musician. That's the audience we design for. That said, our core audience and who typically shows up for Revolt is Gen Y and Gen Z, 50-50 male, female, male and women.

And then, lastly, when you talk about, like, how do you extend it, in the way that hip hop-- 70% of hip hop is purchased by white consumers, hip hop is consumed globally by the world. And so Revolt is just mimicking that strategy where we are designing for our community. We're designing with them in mind, but then inviting the rest of the world to the content. That's how we get scale, and that's also how we help to shift the narrative for Black people through the content that we're creating.

BRIAN CHEUNG: I want to talk about the sponsors that you have. As you mentioned, "Bet on Black," you're working with Target on that front. But you talked about Frito-Lay being a partner in the past. Comcast, Cadillac, AT&T are all also part of your partners. I want to ask, how do you kind of vet business opportunities that are out there that isn't just the surface level donation? Because it's one thing to be offering money and helping you finance your operations, but it's another thing to be about the message that I imagine Revolt wants to get out there.

DETAVIO SAMUELS: Yeah, I love that. I love the chart of brands you just showed. The one I would add is State Farm. Absolutely, we've been phenomenal partners. But when you talk about this idea of how we vet who we work with, Revolt is serious about this thing that we are building. And so we only want to work with serious partners and serious players.

And so we are the ones that want to sit eye to eye across from the CEO, eye to eye across from the CMO. We want them to understand who we are, what we're building, our purpose and our values. We want them to understand that we are unwavering in our commitment to our culture and our community, and that we want to talk about big ideas that we can do together that don't just drive, again, dollars for the media company, but how do we shift and change the world.

Ultimately, I believe that we are moving into this reality where it is no longer just about the products you make, but about the values that you bring to the table, the purpose that your company exists for. And so Revolt is just trying to find people who have similar purpose, similar dreams, similar values, and then trying to change the world together. And so the people that you showed on that screen are absolutely a part of that journey. And we're open to more, but we're not going to do it for people who just want to be performative or transactional. That's not the business we're in.