The performer who now just calls himself Diddy would use the music channel to boost distribution for his Revolt TV, another music service that launched in October, Bloomberg reports citing “three people with knowledge of the situation.” Comcast helped to launch Revolt to fulfill its agreement, in return for government support for its 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal, to add minority-owned networks.
But it’s been hard to secure distribution: Revolt only reaches about 22.8M homes, while Fuse is in 74M. Madison Square Garden put Fuse on the block in September retaining JP Morgan to “explore all strategic alternatives.” Distributors pay an average of 8 cents per month for each home Fuse reaches.
Stifel analyst Benjamin Mogil noted at the time that Fuse could command a healthy price because its deals with distributors enable a buyer to reprogram the network to offer “anything other than live sports.” Many MSG shareholders are eager to see the company return cash to them, possibly by repurchasing shares. The stock has stagnated in recent months. In a call with analysts in February, Vice Chairman Hank Ratner — who was CEO at the time — declined to discuss MSG’s progress with the Fuse sale. Tad Smith, a former exec at Cablevision, took the top job at MSG last month. Cablevision CEO James Dolan is MSG’s executive chairman; his family controls about 69% of its voting shares. Dolan is deeply involved in the music industry, including an investment partnership with longtime music manager Irving Azoff.