Paramount Global has been looking to cash in its chips for BET for most of 2023. Now, the media conglomerate is going to have to decide just how much it is willing to let the brand go for. In March, it was originally reported that the company was interested in selling Black Entertainment Television Group — which includes cable channels BET and VH1, as well as the BET+ streaming service – after turning down a $3 billion offer for Showtime. Since then, numerous people have reportedly expressed interest in acquiring the brand from media mogul Byron Allen to Shaquille O’Neal and 50 Cent. However, the candidate that emerged as the most likely new owner is one of the current owners.
Writer, director, producer, actor, and billionaire Tyler Perry already owns one-quarter of BET+ and put in a final bid of $2 billion for the entire vertical ahead of last week’s Paramount-set deadline according to the New York Post. Reportedly, Perry’s offer comes in $1 billion shy of Paramount’s asking price, which calls into question whether the sale will actually be made.
Allen’s final bid is reportedly $2.7 billion, but unlike Perry’s offer — which has private equity backing — it is unclear whether or not Allen yet has the financial backing to make the deal happen. Allen’s media empire already includes The Weather Channel, Local Now, nearly three dozen local TV affiliates, and more. Paramount — when it was known as Viacom — purchased BET in 2000 for $2.7 billion and is expected to make a decision on the future of the brand in the coming days.
Whether Paramount does decide to sell BET for under its initial asking price or not, a resolution will likely put into sharper focus the future of the brand’s streaming platform. Currently, BET+ costs $9.99 per month for the premium ad-free tier, and last month, the streamer introduced a $5.99 per month ad-supported plan. Both subscription options come with a seven-day free trial as the streamer attempts to reach viewers no matter their individual needs.
“A primary focus for BET+ has been delivering consumers the content they want, how they want it, and when they want it, so the natural evolution of the service was to provide consumers with a more economical ad-integrated experience,” BET president and CEO Scott Mills said when announcing the cheaper price plan. “We are delighted to expand access to our premium streaming service by introducing this ad-supported tier.”
As more and more subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services are realizing recently, including Netflix, they can make more money via the lower-priced ad-supported tiers than with the premium ad-free versions because they are able to more than supplement lost subscription revenue with extra ad dollars. Whoever ends up as the owner of BET, how they handle the move to streaming will likely go a long way to determining the long-term viability of the brand.
BET+ is an online streaming service from BET Networks, launched as a joint venture with Tyler Perry Studios. As one of the largest online subscription video-on-demand services focused on the Black audience and lovers of Black culture, BET+ features more than 1,000 hours of premium content including new, exclusive programming, iconic TV series, movie favorites, as well as documentaries, and specials from BET Networks. BET+ offers original programming from Tyler Perry, including his plays, series, and box office hits.
BET+ can be added as an Amazon Prime Video channel if you’d like to simplify your streaming.