Upfronts 2012: BET Touts Gains During Chicago Upfront
New programming includes Wayans and movies
By Jon Lafayette -- Broadcasting & Cable, 4/16/2012 7:30:11 PMComplete Coverage: Upfronts 2012
BET held its upfront presentation in Chicago Monday afternoon, talking about the network's rank among all cable networks and the buying power of its African-American audience.
The network also highlighted new initiatives, including expanding the BET Awards and the Soul Train Awards into a live experiences with AEG, programs featuring a new generation of Wayans and a group of Hollywood husbands set to compete with the housewives found elsewhere on the dial, a package of first-run movies, a return to the Apollo Theater and a new late-night entry.
BET Networks Chairman and CEO Debra Lee was in charge of laying out a constellation of rising numbers including BET's digital footprint of 75 million digital impression, BET's status as a top-20 cable network and Centric's standing as one of the 10 fastest-growing cable channels.
"No one can offer you a better platform to reach lovers of Black culture," Lee told an audience of about 150 media buyers and others.
Louis Carr, president of media sales at BET, pointed to the gap between BET and others airing shows targeting African-American consumers. "Distractors, imitators and wannabes," he called them, referring to Bravo, TV One, E! and WE tv with their "real wives, ex-wives, want-to-be wives and fighting wives."
"We take our leadership in Black entertainment seriously," Carr said, adding that BET's extensive research into the African-American consumer means it can help clients make the right decisions which courting that market.
Carr also pointed to the buying power of the African-American consumer, including $7.4 billion spent diving out, frequent visits to quick-serve restaurants and a willingness to try new beverages. African Americans also spend $26.7 billion on autos, a big-spending category. "We love cars. I love cars. I've got the perfect last name, Carr," he said.
New primetime programming on BET includes Second Generation Wayans, featuring Craig and Damien Wayans; House Husbands, with Kevin Hart; and reality series The Mathis Project, in which Judge Mathis explores unsolved murders of African Americans.
The network is launching a first-run movie package called "BET Premiere Cinema" and producing films including Being Mary Jane starring Gabrielle Union, Gun Hill and The Mindless Behavior Project. Some films, like Being Mary Jane, may become series. Other will be considered for theatrical distribution, with Viacom sibling Paramount getting first crack.
BET is also moving into late night with Don't Sleep with T.J. Holmes. Instead of being in Chicago, Holmes was interviewing the parents of Trayvon Martin's parents for 106 and Park.
Centric, now in 50 million homes, will be launching a new version of Apollo Live, hosted by Tony Rock, beginning in the fall. The series will be executive produced by Jamie Foxx.
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