NEW YORK – April 27, 2017 – BET Networks announced today its upcoming 2017-2018 fiscal year programming slate at its annual Upfront presentation in New York. From comedy powerhouses Kevin Hart, Chris Rock, Steve Harvey, and Wanda Sykes, BET is bringing funny to the forefront with new original primetime and late night series. BET is also following up its smash hit and ratings juggernaut, “The New Edition Story,” with new biopics and documentary series based on the real-life intrigue of musical icons. From fresh new comedy and biting late night series, to culture-defining movies and returning network hits, BET is saying YES to indomitable talent and premium original programming.
BET Networks’ influence is ubiquitous, persisting as the #1 Cable Network for African American viewers 18-49 for 16 consecutive years. With a broad reach, BET also prevails as a Top 20 ad-supported Cable Network among the coveted P18-49 target demo.* The network debuted its refined positioning as the first and only network to always - and in all ways - showcase the power of black culture. BET is also continuing to tap into the power of African American women on its sister network, Centric, which is being refreshed to “BET Her.” Targeting AA Women 25-54, BET Her takes its rightful place within the BET family as it more closely aligns with the flagship brand. BET Her will invite viewers on a journey through music, culture, travel and lifestyle - everything that is important to “Her” being. The only network dedicated to African American women 24 hours a day, BET Her will officially launch on October 1, 2017. BET Her joins BET Jams, BET Soul and the flagship network, as BET Networks delivers more channels and premium original content to drive viewer engagement and amplify brand love.
BET is proud to hold the top spot with the most socially engaged audience in its competitive set. With over 15 billion annual social impressions, no one tweets, posts, snaps or Instagrams like the BET audience, which led all major cable networks for the second consecutive year.** BET Digital’s Snapchat Live Stories are among the industry leaders, garnering 22.5 million global unique users and 381 million global total Snap views for the combined 2016 “BET Awards,” BET Experience and “BET Hip Hop Awards.”
In addition to viewers, the New York Times hailed BET’s signature tentpole events as “the award shows that get it right.” Touted as “outstanding,” BET’s unrivaled awards shows define authenticity and excellence, claiming six of the top ten Cable Award Shows in CY 2016 among AA P18-49.***
“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. “BET’s global influence is stronger than ever and we are continuing to expand beyond the television screen to impact our audience – and the world – across multiple platforms.” Some networks offer reach and some engagement, but no other network offers reach, engagement, culture, lifestyle and influence.
As BET’s breakout biopic, “The New Edition Story,” soared to 29MM total viewers on television, it also lit social media on fire as “Black Twitter” drove global trending topics all three nights. Now, BET has joined forces with Twitter for the first-ever industry analysis of the overall impact and importance of “Black Twitter.” What is “Black Twitter”? It’s a digital water cooler where African Americans exchange ideas and opinions that are centered on the Black experience, all dialogue is unapologetically Black and is exclusive to things that impact the Black community. As evidenced by BET’s social domination, the network is a critical part of the “Black Twitter” conversation, and in turn drives mainstream culture.
The analysis includes a set of top Twitter hashtags, consisting of over 10MM Tweets and over 20MM Retweets since 2014. Early data continues to support a strong correlation between Tweeting and watching live TV at home via traditional delivery methods. People on Twitter see TV as a social opportunity and source of information for what's happening, best enjoyed live and viewed with others on Twitter. Twitter and BET will release findings in a joint session in June. As one of few brands that organically speaks to this phenomenon, BET will be creating a model to help predict future trends in “Black Twitter” as they emerge.
From unparalleled premium original programming to best-in-class tentpole specials, BET Networks is delivering more powerful content and influence in 2017-18 across more platforms than ever before. BET Networks highlighted the following programming at its annual Upfront presentation:
- From Executive Producer Kevin Hart comes “DIVORCE SAVED MY MARRIAGE,” a new 30-minute scripted dramedy, based on the stand up of David A. Arnold, that turns relationships and marriage inside out. When a couple realizes that divorce is the only thing they can agree on, their attorney recommends a financial plan instead of a court date - forcing them to work together so they can finally afford to be apart. “DIVORCE SAVED MY MARRIAGE” is executive produced and created by Devon K. Shepard and David A. Arnold, with Kevin Hart and Dave Becky serving as Executive Producers.
– BET joins forces with Executive Producer Chris Rock to bring the African American female voice to late night news satire: “THE RUNDOWN WITH ROBIN THEDE.” Comedian and former head writer and contributor for “The Nightly Show,” Robin Thede, gives her hilariously unique take on the week’s headlines in politics and pop culture in a fast-paced, no-holds-barred late night show featuring biting social commentary, sharp sketch comedy and in-your-face pop culture parody. From the team behind “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” “THE RUNDOWN WITH ROBIN THEDE” is produced by JAX MEDIA with Chris Rock and Robin Thede serving as Executive Producers. Tony Hernandez, Lilly Burns, John Skidmore and Genevieve Anniello also executive produce.
– Executive Producer Steve Harvey and BET are opening the door to “BET’s MANCAVE” - a no-holds-barred conversation among five men brave enough to be honest and vulnerable, as they laugh it up and get serious about hot-button topics. Hosted by award-winning journalist Jeff Johnson – and featuring actors, athletes, and comedians, among others – this topical weekly event series brings together African American men with wildly diverse opinions to dissect current hot topics in entertainment, politics, news and beyond. Through humor, genuine emotion and heated debate, the panel will discuss their own opinions and experiences, while revealing what it’s really like to navigate the world as an African American man. With unfiltered honesty, “BET’s MANCAVE” is the ultimate ‘bro-out’ session that reflects how complex men’s thoughts actually are. “BET’s MANCAVE” is created by Jeff Johnson and produced by Truly Original and East 112th Street Productions. Johnson serves as Executive Producer, alongside Truly Original’s Steven Weinstock, Glenda Hersh and Bryan Hale. Steve Harvey and Gerald Washington also serve as Executive Producers for 112th Street Productions.
– From Push It Productions and Executive Producer, Wanda Sykes, “FACE VALUE” is a groundbreaking new game show that will finally answer the age-old question, “Can you judge a book by its cover?” The veteran actress, comedienne and LGBT advocate knows what it’s like to be prejudged, so this series is flipping the script to award cash and prizes for correctly guessing facts about strangers from all walks of life - based solely on their appearance and a few personal details. Hosted by Deon Cole (“black-ish,”Barbershop), “FACE VALUE” will humorously break down stereotypes, expose prejudices, and celebrate the human spirit by highlighting the commonalities and differences among people of various backgrounds, races, religions, beliefs and life experiences. Push It Productions' Wanda Sykes and Page Hurwitz serve as Executive Producers along with Lance Crouther.
– Award-winning rapper, entrepreneur, actor and producer, the iconic Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, storms BET’s airwaves to take variety and sketch comedy to the next level with “50 CENTRAL.” BET’s first variety comedy showcase will be unlike anything seen from the genre before. Along with unprecedented sketches, there will be hidden camera pranks, musical performances, and A-list celebrity guests to create the ultimate late night party – all handpicked and hosted by 50 Cent. Few artists have had as much crossover success as Jackson and he showcases his talents as an MC, actor and producer for a fresh take on the variety series. “50 CENTRAL” is produced by G-Unit Film & Television in partnership with Back Roads Entertainment with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Stephen J. Savva, Colby Gaines and Riley Robbins serving as Executive Producers and Michael A. Blum serving as Co-Executive Producer.
– “LOVE ROOM” is a daring social experiment that brings together individuals who have almost given up on finding a relationship and falling in love. Much more than a single date, two sexy, single strangers will meet and live together for a week to see if a relationship blossoms. Having struck out with blind dates and dating apps, the couples will work through challenges that test their resolve and compatibility. This “full immersion” relationship will accelerate the dating process, challenging the couple to reveal their deepest secrets, face their own insecurities, overcome their fears and set aside their baggage to find true love. “LOVE ROOM” is produced by Eastern, producers of the hit “Love & Hip Hop” franchise. Toby Barraud, Stefan Springman, Mala Chapple, Carmen Mitcho and Sean David Johnson are Executive Producers for Eastern.
– From the team behind BET’s smash hit, “The New Edition Story” - the #1 cable biopic of all time - comes another epic mini-series event: “THE BOBBY BROWN STORY.” With a career that spans from founding the R&B super group New Edition to a successful solo run, Bobby Brown’s life truly epitomizes the meaning of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Hailed as the King of R&B, Bobby Brown is undisputedly one of the genre’s original “bad boys.” His hits may have kept him at the top of the charts, but his antics kept him on the front page. Written by Abdul Williams (“The New Edition Story,” Lottery Ticket), “THE BOBBY BROWN STORY” is executive produced by Jesse Collins (“The New Edition Story,” “Real Husbands of Hollywood”) for JCE Films, a division of Jesse Collins Entertainment.
– The story of the world’s most dangerous record label could only be told in a definitive 6-part documentary series: “DEATH ROW CHRONICLES.” While Death Row Records boasted the success of Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, and Dr. Dre forged by unmatched creativity, the chart-topping and record-breaking sales came at a bloody, controversial cost. Part true-crime murder mystery and part hip hop drama, this compelling docu-series will comb through mountains of misinformation, uncovering key evidence and witnesses who will reveal the truth about the bitter rivalries surrounding its legends. The limited series will also celebrate the groundbreaking music of Death Row, explain how it reflected society at the time, and how it influenced some of today’s biggest hip hop artists. On the eve of the label’s 25th anniversary, “DEATH ROW CHRONICLES” offers an unflinching look at the label and its legacy. “DEATH ROW CHRONICLES” is produced by Entertainment One (eOne) and Creature Films.
– As Wednesday’s #1 New Cable Series among African American millennials (AA P18-34), the riveting, true-to-life drama about HBCU culture and relationships is back for another season of passion and controversy. Georgia A&M President Dr. Eva Fletcher continues to navigate her relationships, career and serve the student body. For faculty and students alike, one similarity remains: everyone plans to make a name for themselves on “THE QUAD.” Starring multi-talented Anika Noni Rose, “THE QUAD” is created and executive produced by Felicia Henderson and Charles Holland, and developed by Rob Hardy who also serves as Executive Producer. Mitzi Miller serves as Co-Executive Producer.
- Shot on the streets of New York, “THE BREAKS” is a gritty, authentic take on the origins of hip hop through the journey of three young friends exploring the industry in 1990 New York City. “THE BREAKS” is inspired by Dan Charnas’ critically acclaimed book The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop, an epic, 40-year narrative of the executives, entrepreneurs, hustlers and handlers who turned rap music into the world’s predominant pop culture. Original cast members included: Afton Willamson (HBO’s “The Night Of…”), Wood Harris (“The Wire”), Mack Wilds (“The Wire”), Antoine Harris (“Ballers”), David Call (“The Magicians”), Evan Handler (“Sex and the City”), Melonie Diaz (“Fruitvale Station”), Sinqua Walls (“Power”), Ali Ahn (“Billions”) and Gloria Reuben (“Mr. Robot”).
– Just when you thought it was over, sizzling new episodes of original series, “HIT THE FLOOR”, are back to steam up TV screens for a brand new season on BET Networks. The premier professional dance squad for the Los Angeles Devils basketball team, the Devil Girls, returns with more scandal, sex, secrets, intrigue and jaw-dropping dance routines, that captured audience’s hearts. "HIT THE FLOOR" was created by James LaRosa.
– Moving into its eighteenth year, The “BET AWARDS” franchise is the #1 program in cable television history among African American viewers, and a top 10 awards show on television among total viewers. This magical night of musical collaborations and jaw-dropping moments consistently delivers high ratings, millions of social media impressions and buzz before, during and after the star-studded live telecast. Last year was a celebration of Prince and his music featuring Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, Janelle Monae, and more. Anything can – and always does – happen at BET’s signature live awards event.
– Returning for its sixth year, BET Experience at L.A. LIVE presented by Coca-Cola® is four-day event showcasing the best in music, comedy, and entertainment. The immersive experience continues to grow each year, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the downtown Los Angeles area. The BET Experience at L.A. LIVE presented by Coca-Cola® includes a series of interactive events such as a free Fan Fest, live music, Sprite Celebrity Basketball Game, and Genius Talks with A-list talent; as well as a partnership between BET Networks and AEG to bring a star-studded electrifying concert series to the L.A. Live complex.
– The “BET HIP HOP AWARDS” returns to highlight the best of the year in hip-hop music, with bold performances and breakthrough freestyle cyphers. This seminal award show singularly celebrates hip-hop and sets social media on fire with the click of a hashtag, placing it among the most social award shows all year. The “BET HIP HOP AWARDS” is the one show where the hottest rap stars of today share the stage with the icons of tomorrow.
™ – Featuring emerging and legendary talent, touching tributes to present-day role models and soulful, surprising musical performances, “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!” ™ celebrates the brilliance and beauty of Black women. This NAACP Image Award-winning special is both timely and timeless, saluting dynamic leaders in entertainment, business, philanthropy, and beyond. Past award winners include film legend Cicely Tyson, music and fashion icon Rihanna, director Ava DuVernay, educator Nadia Lopez, and veteran actor Taraji P. Henson. Created by executive producer Beverly Bond, “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!” ™ highlights the wide spectrum of talent and contributions of women of color who are shaping our world.
– The “SOUL TRAIN AWARDS” brings you the most revered and promising voices in soul and R&B. Simulcast on BET and BET Her, the “Hippest Trip In America” keeps grooving forward. The iconic brand that defined a generation returns with the award show that delivers world class talent and a long tail of social chatter. Honoring the best in R&B and soul, the “SOUL TRAIN AWARDS” is guaranteed to deliver Love, Peace, and SOUL!
– “Soul Train Weekend” returns to Las Vegas for an immersive live experience, showcasing the best of African-American culture. This three-day music celebration will celebrate soul and R&B music with special appearances & performances, a celebrity golf tournament, a Grammy Academy panel and more.
(Source: Live + Same Day | Measurement Period: CY02-CY17 thru Feb by Year based on NHI Calendar (12/31/02-02/26/17) | Total Day = BET Total Day (Mon-Sa 8a-4a/Su 9a-12a), All Other Cable Nets Total Day as expressed in Nielsen platforms | Ad-Supported Cable | Exclude Kids, Sports, News Ad-Supported Cable Networks, along with Ad-Supported Cable Networks that do not program 50% of 24 Hour Total Day | In 2016, BET tied with VH1 (110K Black P18-49 for both) | All Ranked on Black P18-49 Impressions (000)s. | Subject to qualifications which will be supplied upon request.)
(** 'Cable - National' networks measured by Nielsen Social. Rankings are in order of most Facebook and Twitter interactions and 'Cable - National' here does not include news and sports. The ranking applied to 8/1/16-3/5/17.)
(***Nielsen | Live + Same Day | CY16 (12/28/15-12/25/16) | Primetime Mon-Sun 8pm-11pm | All Cable Telecasts excluding repeats, sports, general drama, reality, and news | Ranked on AA P18-49 Impressions (000)s. | Subject to qualifications which will be supplied upon request.)
(Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)