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.
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.
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.
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 TheMindless 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
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