Another Potential BET Bidder Emerges; What Makes Brand so Attractive in Cord Cutting Age?
Many cable channels are suffering from the same issues these days; as more and more American TV watchers are cutting the cord and leaving pay TV behind, cable channel operators are finding that providers are willing to pay less and less, as they have fewer viewers to pull subscription dollars from.
Despite that increasing difficulty, there are several potential buyers emerging for BET and VH1. Recent reports have indicated that Paramount Global may potentially sell the cable networks, as well as their streaming cohort BET+, and the New York Times is reporting that Group Black — a Miami-based media company operated by Black executives — is also circling a prospective bid for the channel and service.
The Weather Channel and Local Now owner Byron Allen has expressed public interest in acquiring BET as well, as has multi-hyphenate media mogul Tyler Perry. The Madea creator has what some consider to be the inside track, due to his current minority ownership of BET+ and his longstanding working relationship with Paramount.
But money talks, and — as always — the winner of this competition will be the bidder who manages to come up with the most cash. Group Black is partnering with private equity firm CVC Capital Partners to make its bid and has also begun reaching out to prominent Black business leaders and artists to gauge their interest in a possible investment.
Paramount has offered few details about the potential sale of BET and VH1. Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom conference last week, CEO Bob Bakish did not provide specifics about the plan to spin off the channels, remarking merely that it was his responsibility to do what was in the best interest of the company’s shareholders.
“We’re always looking for ways to unlock value,” Bakish said. “And we’re steward to shareholder value. If we see something accretive based on a strategic thesis, based on commercial thesis, based on a financial thesis, we’re going to look at it.”
One of the big reasons that BET has garnered so much public interest is its role in serving Black audiences with content specifically created for them. According to a recent survey, 60% of Black TV viewers seek out Black-focused content on a weekly basis, and because there are so few providers dedicated to making that brand of programming, BET occupies a somewhat unique role in the marketplace.
“There’s real interest in having the independence to do the things that you want to do for your community and not having to answer to white people to do that,” Lauren Williams told the NYT; Williams created Capital B, a nonprofit news organization controlled by Black journalists.
Paramount is rethinking the strategy for much of its traditional cable portfolio these days. In addition to the potential sale of BET and VH1, the company is preparing to merge its premium cable channel and streaming service Showtime with Paramount+. Clearly Paramount is sensitive to the increasing rate of cord-cutting in the United States, but considering a potential sale of BET does not mean that the channel will cease occupying its critical role in offering quality content to an underserved market.
Paramount+ is a subscription video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 40,000+ TV show episodes from BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and more. The lineup includes “1883,” “Tulsa King,” “Star Trek: Discovery,” Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants,” and MTV’s “Laguna Beach.” From well-loved franchises to compelling originals, Paramount+ offers a great library worth streaming. Live NFL games are included. The service also offers the option to watch your live CBS affiliate.
Subscribers can choose between the Essentials Plan (which includes ads) for $4.99/month, or go commercial-free with the Premium Plan for $9.99/month. Subscribers can add Showtime to either plan for an additional fee.
With their Premium Plan, in addition to not having ads, you will also get access to your local CBS affiliate to stream your local news, prime-time lineup, and late-night. You will also be able to download offline and watch select shows in 4K.
With the lower cost “Essential” plan, you will still be able to watch live NFL games, Champions League, and national news – but you will no longer get your local CBS affiliate.
With their new app, enjoy advanced recommendations, curated homepages, and new content categories while still being able to stream major live sports like NFL, College Football, College Basketball. Sports fans will also appreciate the service’s inclusion of NFL on CBS, PGA Tour, along with every match of UEFA Champions League and Serie A.
The service was previously called CBS All Access.