From NYC’s PlayStation Theater, BET served up a slew of Upfront announcements that included big names, new series and returning hits it expects will hold BET’s rank as the #1 cable net for African American viewers A18-49 – a position it’s held for 16 consecutive years.
“Over the last 37 years, BET has cultivated a deep and lasting relationship with our viewers, as we remain the premiere destination for lovers of African American culture. This year, we are saying yes to all things black, with more premium original programming and best-in-class tentpoles that reflect and invigorate our viewers,” said Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO, BET Networks.
While BET is refining its positioning as the network that “always – and in all ways” showcases the power of black culture, sister net Centric is being refreshed to BET Her, targeting AA Women 25-54. BET Her officially launches October 1, 2017.
BET’s socially engaged audience was noted – with over 15 billion annual social impressions, the net’s audience led all major entertainment cable networks. The network has joined forced with Twitter for an analysis of the impact and importance of digital water cooler “Black Twitter”; findings will be released in June.
The new programming BET expects will have audiences aTwitter includes comedy Divorce Saved My Marriage, from executive producer Kevin Hart; late night news satire The Rundown with Robin Thede, starring the comedian and former head writer and contributor to The Nightly Show; BET’s Mancave, exec produced by Steve Harvey, featuring no-holds-barred conversations between “five men brave enough to be honest and vulnerable”; game show Face Value, from Push It Productions and exec producer Wanda Sykes; BET’s first variety comedy showcase, from Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, 50 Central, “unlike anything seen in the genre before”; and social experiment Love Room, which puts two strangers in a “full immersion” relationship for a week.
Mini-series events include The Bobby Brown Story and Death Row Chronicles, focused on record label Death Row Records.
Original drama series The Quad, The Breaks and Hit the Floor will all be back, along with tent pole events BET Awards, BET Experience, BET Hip Hop Awards, Black Girls Rock!, Soul Train Awards, Lip Sync Battle special editions and Soul Train Weekend.
BET parent Viacom isn’t hosting a big tent event, but CEO Bob Bakish and head of ad sales Sean Moran have been hosting a series of Upfront dinners with media agencies to relay the message that Viacom is bringing renewed energy and youth culture to marketers, connecting them to a youthful audience in a meaningful, data-driven way, in a trusted environment.
Moran now oversees targeted ad unit Viacom Vantage and content unit Viacom Velocity. And new product Epic brings campaigns across the Viacom portfolio, including BET and its global properties.
One example of youth programming that should lure advertisers: MTV will increase its hard-to-ad-skip live programming, with several hours of live content coming out of a new studio overlooking Times Square.