Another potential new owner for BET has emerged, and it’s arguably the best-known public figure of all the interested parties so far.
Ever since it was announced in early March that Paramount was considering a sale of BET, BET+ and VH1, prospective bidders have been popping up from all over the entertainment landscape. This time, it’s Sean “Diddy” Combs who has thrown his hat into the ring.
Combs’ interest in BET was rumored earlier this month, but this week he took to social media to confirm he had kicked the tires on a purchase. On his Instagram page, Combs wrote ““It’s time for @BET to be Black-owned again so we have the power to tell our own stories, control our own narrative! This is not about me it’s about WE!!!!”
“I’m building a team of leaders in the culture to pursue ownership in @BET together!,” he continued. “We have to unify our power and resources to create real change! #THETIMEISNOW”
Little is known about the prospective sale of BET, as Paramount CEO Bob Bakish is generally reluctant to discuss the terms of any such deal publicly. Paramount Global (known as Viacom at the time) purchased BET for $3 billion back in 2001, and BET Media Group’s revenue in 2022 was around $1.5 billion, so it’s safe to assume Paramount is looking for a figure somewhere in the neighborhood of those numbers.
Combs’ interest seems quite genuine, but he’ll have competition for BET. When the prospective sale was first reported on, Byron Allen and Tyler Perry both emerged immediately as names that had had discussions with Paramount. Allen is the billionaire owner of Allen Media Group, whose current holdings include The Weather Channel and the free news streaming service Local Now, which was recently named the best streaming video platform on the market by Digiday.
Perry has an established track record of working with Paramount, as he co-owns BET+ and has developed numerous shows for the service. Miami-based media company Group Black is a third potential buyer of BET Media Group; it’s a conglomerate of Black business owners and entrepreneurs dedicated to putting Black content in the hands of Black creators.
Paramount is hoping to use the sale to fund its streaming ventures in the future, as it pivots away from a focus on linear television. The company plans to merge content from its premium cable channel Showtime and its streaming cohort onto Paramount+ sometime in the near future. Paramount turned down an unsolicited $3 billion offer to sell Showtime earlier this year, signaling Showtime content has a big part to play in its streaming future.
The company apparently doesn’t feel that way about BET Media Group, but it’s clear that its potential buyers do. Combs is firmly entrenched on that list of prospective new owners, and the price may keep creeping up if more competition keeps entering the picture.
BET+ is an online streaming service from BET Networks, launched as a joint venture with Tyler Perry Studios. As one of the largest online subscription video-on-demand services focused on the Black audience and lovers of Black culture, BET+ features more than 1,000 hours of premium content including new, exclusive programming, iconic TV series, movie favorites, as well as documentaries, and specials from BET Networks. BET+ offers original programming from Tyler Perry, including his plays, series, and box office hits.
BET+ can be added as an Amazon Prime Video channel if you’d like to simplify your streaming.