BET+ Review: Streaming Service Brings Premium African American Content Straight to Your Fingertips, But Is it Worth $10 a Month?
On September 19, BET Networks, in conjunction with Tyler Perry Studios, launched their premium subscription service, BET+.
The service was first announced in June and offers consumers an original and diverse collection of premier African American-focused dramas, sitcoms, film, stand-up comedy, and specials in the streaming universe.
We tried out the app, and while there certainly is a need for an app like BET+, it seems as though this platform serves to take you back to the good ole days, as opposed to bringing you into the present. Below is full a breakdown of the streaming service pricing, content library, features, and our overall review.
Plans & Pricing
BET+ offers a single $9.99 a month plan, which comes with a 7-Day Free Trial. For that, you get access to ad-free and features more than 1,000 hours of premium content, including exclusive new original programming and fan-favorite series, movies, and specials from BET Networks, as well as a host of leading African American content creators, including Tyler Perry, Tracy Oliver, Will Packer and more.
Supported Apps & Devices
You can download the app across devices including Apple TV, Fire TV, Android TV, iOS, and Android. For now, the service is not yet available on Roku or Web.
How to Sign-Up
If you subscribe to BET+ Amazon Prime Video Channel, it can be accessed on Fire TVs, Kindles, and the Prime Video app. However, if you subscribe to the Apple TV BET+ Channel can only be accessed through the Apple TV App — which is the only way to stream offline for now.
If you want to stream using the official BET+ app for iOS or Android, you need to install the respective app and create a BET+ account. You won’t be able to use the BET+ App if you sign-up via Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV Channels.
At launch, the streaming service premiered original series First Wives Club and Bigger. First Wives Club is a nine-episode scripted drama from acclaimed Girls Trip screenwriter Tracy Oliver. The show is a remake of the classic 1996 revenge comedy film, starring Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton. The remake now stars an all-star African-American cast that includes Jill Scott, Ryan Michelle Bathe and Michelle Buteau. The show centers around the three women reconnecting and helping each other weather storms in their relationships.
Bigger, a ten-episode series from Will Packer, follows a single-black-woman dealing with the threat of an unwanted marriage and the sudden death of a college acquaintance. The unexpected death drives her ambitious group of friends to take a deeper look at their stagnant lives. The scripted comedy stars Tanisha Long, Angell Conwell, Rasheda Crockett, Chase Anthony, and Tristen Winger. The first three episodes of the series were available at launch and the rest started rolling out on a weekly basis every Thursday, starting Sept. 26.
Other upcoming original shows include The Oval and Sistas, from director Tyler Perry, which premiere Oct. 9.
BET+ is the official streaming home for Tyler Perry’s box office-topping theatrical films, including films from the Madea series; original series and a selection of Perry’s stage plays: Meet the Browns, Daddy’s Little Girls, Temptation: Confessions Of A Marriage Counselor, and more.
The platform also comes with BET’s beloved library series, films, documentaries, and specials that are as recent as The Bobby Brown Story, The New Edition Story, and Real Husbands of Hollywood, in addition to old-school, cult classics such as College Hill, Baldwin Hills, Frankie and Neffe and more.
BET+ is the first streaming home for the classic comedy shows, Martin and Comic View, which weren’t available for streaming prior. Stand-up comedy specials from D.L. Hughley, Eddie Griffin, Nick Cannon, Sasheer Zamata and other comedians will be added in the coming months.
Popular African-American series from BET sister networks, including VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, Basketball Wives, T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle, Comedy Central’s Why? With Hannibal Buress, MTV’s Todrick, TV Land’s Soul Man, Nick @ Night’s Instant Mom, and more will also join the service.
BET+’s home page showcases content in eleven different sections — Featured, Trending Now, Comedies, Reality, Dramas, Tyler Perry Collection, Love & Relationships, Music & Specials, Documentaries, History & Biography and Coming Soon. A Continue Watching section pops up once you’ve started a show. Though all Tyler Perry content has a designated area, it is also scattered within the other categories.
Maybe because the service is still new or maybe because we are just used to the Netflix and Amazon, but the homepage, at first glance, seems quite stagnant. Where Netflix and Amazon offer trailers for their shows or movies, BET+ merely allows you to scroll through what feels like a limited amount of content.
Features that make your experience more personal such as the “My List” category on Netflix or the “Top Movie Picks For You” category on Prime are also not available on BET+—possibly due to the fact that they don’t have a lot of content as yet.
The app’s search feature can be found on the upper right corner of the page (and on the left if you’re using Prime). It offers auto-fill suggestions as you type and stores your search history. Searches for library content such as Love & Hip Hop as well as Basketball Wives also show results for the shows’ spinoff series.
Is it Worth It?
When BET+ was first announced, the company seemed to leverage a lot of the Tyler Perry content as a hook for people to sign up. However, as of right now, a very small portion of his catalog is available on the service. Blockbusting hits such as The Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Why Did I Get Married, Temptations, and Single Moms Club are not yet available, which given their popularity, one would think they would have been the first ones up. It is also worth noting that though Tyler Perry’s content is watched by different age groups, a strong majority of his audience are baby boomers, who are not the biggest group of cord cutters.
For millennials, BET+ is hinging on shows such as Baldwin Hills, College Hill, 106 & Park as well as older seasons of Basketball Wives, which seem to be more for nostalgia than they are fulfilling a content gap.
As it stands right now, BET+ just seems like an aggregation of old programming on an app. It’s a platform one turns to when they want to relive their childhood or college years, but it’s not the place you go to when you are looking for something new and cutting edge to watch. While, the value of a platform for an oft forgotten and underserved demographic cannot be denied, $9.99 seems too steep a price to pay for a bit of nostalgia, when you compare it to what you get on Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video.