Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Russell Simmons Media Group Backs New Hip-Hop Channel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons' media group this month will launch a video-on-demand channel for rap music, aiming to capture a coveted urban male demographic with programing that partly relies on advertisers.

The channel, dubbed DoD, was created by media entrepreneur Will Griffin together with the Simmons Lathan Media Group.

Beginning on Friday, the channel will be available free to subscribers of cable operator Comcast Corp. in 22 markets, with sponsorship from advertisers that include athletic apparel maker Reebok, Coca-Cola Co. and General Motors Corp..

"We're trying to do something grassroots and organic for the fans," DoD Chief Executive Griffin told Reuters. "Our obligation is to find more morsels, more content and put more out there than you would see anywhere else."

The channel will offer music videos, documentaries on hip-hop stars, features on locally popular bands, and comedy specials.

Griffin said some of the new programing includes interview footage that Reebok shot with top stars like 50 Cent and Jay-Z for its RBK apparel campaign, letting the advertiser take advantage of content that normally wouldn't make it past the commercial cutting room.

"Those commercials were shot documentary-style," Griffin said. "With a typical media buy, they could only show 30 seconds of that, but for a fan of 50 Cent, almost anything they shot will be interesting."

Other advertising and branding opportunities include a short-form documentary produced by General Motors that focuses on Slum Village, a group popular in the Detroit area.

Griffin said DoD is in talks with other cable operators and media companies to offer the service to other audiences and through additional media devices.

Clear Channel Entertainment Properties, part of Clear Channel Communications, signed on the advertisers to the new venture.

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