BET Strategic Opportunities - March 2009



New programming presidents Loretha Jones and Stephen Hill were appointed in fourth quarter '08. Where will the network go now? Reality remainins the dominant format. Political programming is also taking a more prominent seat on the network (Inaugural Ball, THE BET HONORS). THE GAME was brought to BET''s air from CW, and movies have been ramped up. Future plans are heavy on celebrity reality and community-building news programming.


BET is a great climate for new program ideas dealing with provocative African American themes.

College reality series have done well and now celebrity formats of new and established African American artists are taking a front seat. Competition reality has also seen its fair-share of programming successes.The network tried a scripted original series (SOMEBODIES), but it bowed to low ratings, and BET has become one of the few networks without a scripted original drama on its air, or even its in-development slate.

The network has tried to address criticism that its programming is low-grade without social commentary, and has aired many news, political, documentary and issue-oriented programming. Programs and specials that deal with African American lifestyle, family, beliefs, community issues and experiences are all viable for BET.


Off-Network sitcoms and premium cable series.


The network does not accept any unsolicited material.  You must be represented by an agent, attorney or production company.  There are two programming divisions that accept submissions both on the east coast and the west coast offices.  There is no e-mail submission process.


From a February 2009 interview in MultiChannel News, new co-president of programming Loretha Jones gave some insight to BET's expanding strategy: "I think our goal and whole idea is to reach a variety of ages and interests with a variety of genres of shows that we intend to bring to them. We have shows like [Harlem Heights] that may skew older and we have acquisitions like Smart Guy which skew younger. We're looking at developing an original animated show in the family vein so everyone from 8 to 80 can watch it. We're considering what's going to work best because we want to build our schedule in such a way that families feel comfortable leaving the channel on BET the whole time, but at the same time, depending on who's going to be home, servicing their needs as well."

During the 2009/2010 upfront presentations, Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO of BET spoke about how BET will provide its audience with "quality entertainment that speaks to where they are in their lives and where they want to go. BET's reinvigorated approach is built on supporting families, embracing and encouraging their dreams, focusing on the issues that are important to them and presenting the freshest talent and entertainment."

BET has shown a willingness to invest in homemade comedies and dramas, turning away from the low-cost high-margin music videos and amateur comedians of the past. BET has tried to upgrade original programming that they can own and repurpose across platforms. The network continues to explore new programming genres, with some hits and a lot of misses, as it searches for those successful franchises.


E-mail CableU feedback on our observations at