BET Networks just announced its upcoming programming lineup during Centric and BET's annual Upfront presentation — and it's pretty lit. From fresh and original scripted series and provocative reality series to powerful movies and returning network hits, BET Networks’ 2016 slate features more premium original programming across more platforms than ever before. The network is giving us something to watch!
“We have developed a deep and authentic relationship with our audience over the last 35 years and it is that genuine connection that has allowed BET to expand into a global multiplatform brand. This year, we are committed to reaching far beyond the television screen and continuing to deliver more of the premium content that our audiences have come to expect,” said Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO of BET Networks. “With BET being more accessible across more platforms, we are creating a powerful, 360-degree experience for our audience to interact with the BET brand like never before.”
On Wednesday, April 27, BET Digital is set to relaunch its entire digital ecosystem, giving readers a reimagined experience across desktop computers, mobile and tablet platforms. BET’s digital platforms, BET.com and the BET Now App will introduce several new components unique to the digital space, including dynamic content feeds, simplified content discovery, cutting-edge designs that incorporate peek-through advertising and messaging opportunities on all electronic devices. Additionally, the BET Digital refresh presents advertisers with unparalleled access to the coveted BET community and expanded reach with added premium integrations and inventory.
“Our brand has always been a trendsetter, shaping the culture and leading the conversation. Not only is our content more authentic, powerful and relevant, but now it’s more accessible across more channels and platforms than ever before,” said Louis Carr, President of Broadcast and Advertising Media Sales, BET Networks. “Our most recent partnerships with Snapchat and WhoSay will allow brands to tap into the power of the largest, most socially engaged fans in the multimedia space. With BET Networks, you get more channels, more celebrities, more platforms, deeper audience connection, and an incomparable environment that is perfect for brand connection and immersion.”
MORE LIVE SOCIAL PARTNERSHIPS – SNAPCHAT AND WHOSAY
Each year, BET Digital magnifies the buzz surrounding its live events, with its biggest weekend being The “BET AWARDS” and BET Experience. BET.com’s huge audience and social reach will now extend even further with the announcement of its new enhanced partnership with Snapchat, the premiere platform to experience live and ephemeral global content. Capitalizing on last year’s “BET AWARDS” Snapchat Live Story, which resulted in one of Snapchat’s biggest live stories of the year, BET ushers in a new two-day “BET AWARDS” and BET Experience Snapchat Live Story to make the entire weekend the prime destination for audiences to get a firsthand look at the celebrity-filled action and offer advertisers unparalleled access to BET’s massive social community.
BET.com’s impressive digital footprint will expand even further in the marketplace and allow advertisers to connect with BET’s coveted audience in a more meaningful way with the launch of “BET AA-Fluencers,” powered by WhoSay. BET will feature constant unfiltered content shared by more than 2,000 of the world's most captivating urban personalities — including actors, athletes, chefs and millennial influencers. BET’s innovative partnership with WhoSay will allow brands to leverage African-America influencers with high-impact opportunities that will build authentic brand narratives and bridge the gap between celebrities and the BET audience. Whether generating social buzz, site traffic or sales, BET’s in-house “AA-Fluencers” will create buzzworthy content that will evoke an emotional resonance with brands.
From amplified premium original programming to best-in-class tentpole specials to dynamic movie events, BET Networks is delivering more powerful moments in 2016-17 across more platforms than ever before. BET Networks highlighted the following programming at its annual Upfront presentation:
· TALES — From executive producer Irv Gotti Lorenzo comes “TALES,” a 60-minute scripted anthology series of “song stories” weaving classic hip-hop songs into visually stunning three-act narratives. Far beyond the music video or the live event, “TALES” brings hip-hop alive in a completely new way for television. With “TALES,” each song’s lyrics are imagined as cinematic adventures with a different director and screenwriter per song story. The series is a multi-platform cross-collaboration with Tidal, the global music and entertainment platform, where the director’s cut versions of each episode will live exclusively after premiering on BET. Subscribers will be able to stream the series on their web browser or through the Tidal mobile app. “TALES” is produced and created by Irv Gotti and his Visionary Ideas production company.
· THE YARD — Starring Tony® Award winners Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls, The Princess and The Frog) and Reuben Santiago-Hudson (Billions,American Gangster) along with actors Jazz Raycole (The Soul Man, My Wife and Kids) and newcomer Peyton Alex Smith; “THE YARD” is a dynamic scripted dramatic series that takes viewers inside the unique, culture-filled world of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). “THE YARD” follows ambitious yet troubled Dr. Eva Fletcher (Rose), the newly-elected president of the fictional Georgia A&M University. Upon arriving, Eva is charged with saving the prestigious HBCU from bankruptcy and to keep her twenty-year marriage from crumbling while managing a tumultuous relationship with her rebellious only daughter. A diverse group of freshman also promise to keep Eva’s hands full. The multi-talented cast also includes TV icon Jasmine Guy and Sean Blakemore (“General Hospital”) as well as exciting emerging talents Zoe Renee, Michelle DeFraites, Erica Michelle, Jake Allyn, Larry Rhem and E. Roger Mitchell. The emotionally-charged series is created by Felicia D. Henderson (Gossip Girl, Soul Food) and Charles Holland (CSI: Miami, NY Undercover). The show is executive produced by Henderson and Rob Hardy (Stomp the Yard, How to Get Away With Murder, Power). Co-executive producers on the project include Holland, Will Packer and Mitzi Miller. “THE YARD” is production of Rainforest Entertainment and WaterWalk Productions in conjunction with BET Networks.
· BENCHED – “BENCHED” is a one-hour original scripted dramedy about a reluctant, recently appointed judge who is not quite ready to give up his life as a bachelor to begin a new life as a public servant. Each week, he confronts the underbelly of the criminal justice system that has derailed a generation of African-Americans — including those close to him — as he upholds the tenets of the same system. “BENCHED” is created by Scott Brown.
· REBEL – “REBEL” is an extraordinary take on the seminal police drama that examines the unique and conflicted relationship officers of color have with their jobs at a time when police forces are rife with brutality and misconduct. Oakland police officerRebel Cole has always excelled by playing by the rules. She has always known that she must be better and smarter on the job because she is both Black and female. After her brother is slain by police, Rebel soon becomes disillusioned with the system and is forced to take matters into her own hands. Caught between family loyalty and the fraternity in blue, Rebel’s actions set in motion a cause-and-effect crisis that can’t be undone. “REBEL” is produced by Mar Vista and BET Productions and executive produced by visionary filmmaker John Singleton and Dallas Jackson.
· COMEDY GETDOWN – In the tradition of a modern-day Rat Pack, five of America’s most popular and razor sharp comics open up their lives to viewers on the road, on stage and off the record. With a cast that includes comedy superstars Cedric the Entertainer, DL Hughley, George Lopez, Charlie Murphy and Eddie Griffin, this half-hour mockumentary-style scripted series will culminate in an all-star stand-up comedy special. In the spirit of the “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” expect the kind of humor and social commentary that will make “COMEDY GETDOWN” appointment television. Brad Wollack and Tom Brunelle will serve as executive producers.
COMPELLING NEW UNSCRIPTED PROGRAMMING ON BET:
· MUSIC MOGULS — Birdman. Dame Dash. Jermaine Dupri. Snoop Dogg. They’ve spent the last 20 years making hits, stars and headlines, as well as laying the foundation for some of today’s biggest acts. Although they’ve sold millions of records and taken the risks to live the life of a mogul, not every calculation yields the desired return. Over eight 60-minute episodes, this hard-hitting docu-series takes you into their lives as each entrepreneur navigates both familiar and new territory — from grooming new talent and building new empires to raising their college-bound children. Being a music mogul is grown man business. Learn what it takes to stay at the top of the game. Lemuel O. Plummer, Birdman and Snoop Dogg serve as executive producers.
· GARY OWEN FAMILY – Gary Owen is arguably Black America’s most beloved non-Black comic. He became part of the family as the first Caucasian man to host BET’s ComicView and confirmed he was here to stay with his star turns in the Think Like A Man films, Ride Along and Meet the Blacks. He also starred in his own hit stand-up comedy specials, including I Agree With Myself, True Story and the upcoming I Got My Associates. Now, he brings his own interracial and blended family to BET in a 30-minute unscripted series that is colorful, truthful and hysterical. Gary Owen loves his wife so much, he wants to marry her again — and the path down the aisle is paved with non-stop laughter as he balances planning a wedding with raising his three rambunctious children and growing his white-hot career. Gary Owen Family is produced by Bunim/Murray Productions. Bunim/Murray's Gil Goldschein and Jeff Jenkins serve as executive producers along with Gary Owen, Stella Bulochnikov, Brian Sher and TIP “T.I.” Harris.
· JOYFUL NOISE — “JOYFUL NOISE” is the gospel music hour that delivers the perfect blend of performances from today’s gospel super stars, rising new artists, powerful personal testimonies and insightful man-on-the-street interviews with the inspirational Willie Moore Jr. Hosted by one of gospel music’s most gifted artists, Tye Tribbett, this series is sure to strengthen the genre’s appeal with younger audiences, while honoring the core values of its rich traditions. In addition to a variety of musical performances, each show will also feature a power-filled sermonette by one of the nation’s leading pastors, setting the tone for a more compelling worship experience. Finally, “JOYFUL NOISE” will showcase amazing local churches from around the nation, giving viewers the opportunity to get their hometown church featured on the show. “JOYFUL NOISE” is guaranteed to deliver the kind of entertainment that feeds the spirit and uplifts the soul.
· ONE SHOT – “ONE SHOT” is a high-octane hip-hop lyrical competition series hosted by Sway, the realest hip-hop personality in the business. Sway leads a panel of hip-hop veterans in a nationwide quest for the next explosive emcee with mass appeal, on-the-fly musicianship and command of the stage. Neither battle show nor glossy newcomer search, “ONE SHOT” provides a platform for America’s best on-the-mic talent. Each contestant’s main competition can be found in the mirror. Sway serves as executive producer along with Mike Smith, Dominick Wickliffe pka “Kxng Crooked,” Rod Sepand p/k/a “King Tech,” Erika Smith, Nancy Nayor and Dean Hadaegh.
POWERFUL NEW MOVIE EVENTS ON BET:
· NEW EDITION: THE MOVIE — New Edition laid the foundation for how modern-day boy bands look, feel and sound. Boyz II Men, N’SYNC, The Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block all took their cues from Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnny. After 30 years of breaking hearts on records and on the stage, New Edition finally gets the biopic that their stellar tenure in entertainment so richly deserves. This three-part miniseries follows the group from their middle school lunchroom to global megastardom — weathering the highs and lows of controversy, personnel changes and the ultimate cost of fame. Algee Smith (Let It Shine), Bryshere Gray (Empire), Elijah Kelley (The Butler, The Wiz Live!), Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Luke James, Keith Powers (Straight Outta Compton) and Woody McClain(Autographs) have joined the cast to bring the iconic music group’s legend to life. Written by Abdul Williams (Lottery Ticket), “NEW EDITION: THE MOVIE” is executive produced by Jesse Collins (“Real Husbands of Hollywood”) for JCE Films, a division of Jesse Collins Entertainment; and is directed by Chris Robinson (ATL).
· MADIBA — BET partners with executive producers Lance Samuels, Kweku Mandela and Daniel Iron for an original production that focuses on the story of Nelson Mandela, the globally beloved humanitarian, as well as the many other leaders of the African National Congress — Oliver Tambo (Orlando Jones) and Walter Sisulu (David Harewood) — who fought alongside Mandela in the multi-racial, multi-national movement that led to the end of South African apartheid. Academy Award® nominee Laurence Fishburne completely transforms in the lead role under the direction of Kevin Hooks (Passenger 57, Prison Break), who also serves as executive producer.
EMPOWERING NEW PROGRAMMING ON CENTRIC:
· QUEEN BEE – Entrepreneurs are an enormous force in American business and culture and African-American women are among the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs in the nation. They have the ideas, the creativity and the drive, but too often they fly under the radar and don't get the mentoring and capital they need to launch their product or take their company to the next level. Developed by Jon Housman, Ora TV and SWSI, this groundbreaking reality competition series discovers amazing entrepreneurs building real-life companies and then challenges them to take their skills to the next level. Mentored — and put to the test — by a panel of celebrities and successful entrepreneurs like Tonya Lewis Lee, our contestants will go through a series of intense challenges in an effort to win the competition and a potentially life-changing opportunity to become Queen Bee. Jon Housman serves as Executive Producer.
· MONICA MORTON – On Centric, real women are stars. This year, we meet the real-life investigator and crisis manager that scandal-plagued celebrities and athletes already rely upon: MONICA MORTON, P.I. With her pistol in one hand and lipstick in the other, Monica uses her quick wit and sharp tongue to solve cases in this unscripted series. Mike Sinclair is executive producer.
PREMIUM RETURNING HITS ON BET:
· BEING MARY JANE – Hailed as “spicy and explosive” by Essence magazine and given an "A-" by Entertainment Weekly, “BEING MARY JANE” is a game-changing smash hit drama. The third season earned a 2016 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series and Gabrielle Union’s critically acclaimed performance has shattered the internet with non-stop chatter about Mary Jane’s unbreakable spirit in the face of tragedy, extortion and intimate relationships. Gabrielle Union returns for what promises to be an explosive fourth season of the breakout original drama series. This never predictable, always engaging, one-hour drama delivers gasp-worthy realness every week. See what life and love have in store for Mary Jane in the tantalizing new season of “BEING MARY JANE.”
· REAL HUSBANDS OF HOLLYWOOD – The fakest reality show ever has become a juggernaut all its own, spoofing reality spouses to strong ratings and widespread critical acclaim. People’s Choice Award winner Kevin Hart returns to lead the all-star cast (Nelly, Nick Cannon and Cynthia Kaye McWilliams). The series is also a social media phenomenon and remains among the most tweeted comedy series in all of cable TV. A brand new season of “REAL HUSBANDS OF HOLLYWOOD” will provide more appointment television full of hysterical situations between the husbands and their celebrity wives, cameos by A-list special guests and laugh-out-loud cliffhangers. Kevin Hart serves as executive producer along with Jesse Collins, Ralph Farquahar, Stan Lathan, Chris Spencer and Dave Becky.
RETURNING MEGA-SPECIALS AND TENTPOLE EVENTS ON BET:
· BET AWARDS’ 16 – In its sixteenth year,The “BET AWARDS” franchise is the No. 1 program in cable television history among African-American viewers and a top 10 awards show on television among total viewers. The BET AWARDS ’15 was a worldwide trending topic as the live telecast was the No. 1 most social cable special of 2015. Featuring the biggest stars in music, sports, Hollywood and philanthropy on one stage for one incredible night, the “BET AWARDS ’16” promises to be a star-studded night packed with unforgettable buzzworthy moments.
· BET EXPERIENCE – Returning for its fourth year, BET Experience at L.A. LIVE presented by Coca-Cola® is a four-day event showcasing the best in music, comedy and entertainment. The immersive experience has grown exponentially over the last three years, 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. BET Networks and AEG have also recently announced the star-studded lineup of electrifying concerts, including Fetty Wap, A$AP Ferg, Tory Lanez, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Usher, Bryson Tiller, Katt Williams and Mike Epps.
· BET HIP HOP AWARDS – The “BET HIP HOP AWARDS” returns for its tenth year to highlight the best in hip-hop music, with dynamic performances and breakthrough freestyle cyphers that set social media on fire. The only show of its kind, the “BET HIP HOP AWARDS” celebrates legendary hip-hop icons, today’s hottest rap artists and emerging hip-hop stars of tomorrow all on one stage. This show serves millions of people who love hip-hop culture, a culture which continues to define a generation and defy convention.
· BLACK GIRLS ROCK! – Created by Beverly Bond, “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!” is a tribute show that became a movement. This NAACP Image Award-nominated special is both timely and timeless, saluting dynamic female leaders in entertainment, business, philanthropy and beyond. Past award winners include Ruby Dee, Shonda Rhimes, Rihanna, Janelle Monáe, and Taraji P. Henson. 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 women of color who shape our world and uplift our girls.
· CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL – The biggest night that celebrates gospel music, America’s truly original and internationally loved art form, only happens on BET. “CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL” is a star-studded evening of spirited performances and moving renditions by today’s hottest and most talented artists from the worlds of gospel and R&B.
· THE BET HONORS – Returning for a 10th year, “THE BET HONORS” shows the world “what extraordinary looks like” by shining the spotlight on the achievements of distinguished leaders in the fields of music, education, entertainment, technology and business. Airing during Black History Month, “THE BET HONORS” is a shimmering night of dynamic performances and tributes that cross genres and generations. Previous honorees include Lee Daniels, Eric Holder, Kanye West, Patti Labelle and Phylicia Rashad.
RETURNING MEGA-SPECIALS AND TENTPOLE EVENTS ON CENTRIC:
· SOUL TRAIN AWARDS – With BET Networks’ recent acquisition of the iconic Soul Train franchise, this year’s “SOUL TRAIN AWARDS” promises more love, peace and soul than ever before. Featuring one-of-a-kind musical collaborations and powerful tributes from world-class performers, the “SOUL TRAIN AWARDS” brings you the most celebrated and rising voices in soul and R&B. The “SOUL TRAIN AWARDS” is simulcast on Centric and BET.
· CENTRIC SOUL WEEKEND – “Centric Soul Weekend” will be an amazing on-the-ground experience shared by viewers, artists and clients alike, as Las Vegas comes alive with a celebration and showcase of the best of African-American culture.