During its annual Upfront presentation to the advertising community, BET Networks will reveal its new consumer research, new programming strategy including scripted programs and original movies, and the reinvigorated direction for the company at New York City's Nokia Theatre. Touting the Network's unique understanding of black consumers through its "African Americans Revealed" study, BET will reinforce its position as the world's #1 provider of black content with unprecedented reach to all types of African American consumers across all demographics and genres.
Coming off of 2009, BET's best year ever, the Network is now among the top 20 cable networks in delivery of the 18-49 audience, and is steadily outperforming its cable industry peers. In 2009, BET earned double-digit gains in all of its key demos and, according to Nielsen Media Research. The first quarter of 2010 was the number one quarter performance among adults in network history with an average of 524,000 total viewers.
"We have always been in constant conversation with our audience, but now we are coming into 2010 with a creative mix of original content and key acquisitions that keep our numbers growing," said Debra L. Lee, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, BET Networks. "It is because this creative mix of content gives our audience exactly what they're seeking -- that we're the number one growth network for African Americans."
At the 2010 Upfront presentation, the Network will offer compelling research and consumer insights through the most comprehensive look at the black consumer market ever, "African Americans Revealed." The study provides a wide range of insights, but the one that topped the list was the importance of family. In fact, 88% of those studied cited family as their top priority.
"Throughout this process, we identified critical insights about our audience that would power our 2010 programming strategy for BET and Centric and provide a comprehensive understanding of our audience, which is the heart of the BET value proposition," said Scott Mills, President and Chief Operating Officer, BET Networks. "With such a tremendous response from our audience and the overall black community in the report, it was immediately obvious to us that BET Networks' Upfront 2010 would be 'a family affair.'"
According to Nielsen, two out of every three African Americans in BET's viewer universe tunes into BET at least once a month. And now that the network has just crossed the distribution threshold of 90 million households, that equals 23 million black people.
"Our unique understanding of black consumers powers everything we do and should power everything that our advertisers do," said Louis Carr, President of Broadcast Media Sales, BET Networks. "And because no other network understands African American consumers as deeply as BET does, our insights and comprehensive brand solutions help our advertisers hyper-target the consumers they want the most."
BET will also announce its plans to produce original episodes of the highly successful sitcom THE GAME. The Network also announced its partnership with Flavor Unit Entertainment to produce original programs including scripted series LET'S STAY TOGETHER and the original movie, THE COOKOUT 2. Created and executive produced by Jacque Edmonds Cofer, LET'S STAY TOGETHER features an ensemble cast and highlights the challenges of modern relationships of five young, aspirational African Americans. Flavor Unit Entertainment will also produce THE COOKOUT 2, the sequel to the wildly popular feature film, The Cookout, which finds a suspended NBA star playing the game of his life to rescue his family.
"This year, we decided to add scripted shows to our strategy mix of reality programming, acquisitions and movies," said Loretha Jones, President of Original Programming at BET Networks. "We're pretty confident our upcoming slate of programming has a little something for everybody."
The Network will also announce that Ed Gordon, the seasoned anchor and Emmy award-winning broadcaster, will be returning to BET News for a variety of news programs and specials.
Music always matters at BET and the Network will announce new music and programming specials. 106 & PARK, which has been the number one music/variety show on cable for eleven consecutive quarters, will celebrate its 10th anniversary with two specials -- one, a retrospective of some of the show's biggest moments, and the other, a live, music filled, star-studded celebration. BET will also announce a new special that explores the new generation of rappers who debuted in the 21st century.
"BET is the best at shining a light on the achievements of our collective. And this year, we have a great selection of celebrations," said Stephen Hill, President of Entertainment and Music Programming.
BET will also announce its partnership with Black Girls Rock, for its first-ever televised Black Girls Rock Awards. This mega-special will be a true celebration of black women, honoring leading African American women and their achievements.
Centric continues to strike a powerful cord with its audience by offering the best of black culture to viewers. StEve Harvey, the host of the popular syndicated radio morning show, will bring THE STEVE HARVEY PROJECT to Centric in the fall.
Additionally, Centric will announce that it will be rated by Nielson starting with the third quarter of 2010.
NEW PROGRAMMING ON BET
During the Upfront presentation, BET will announce several new original series, including:
LET'S STAY TOGETHER - When two independently minded sisters take the step toward marriage, life puts their love to the test. This sophisticated romantic comedy series keeps its sense of humor as it tackles the intricacies of sex, intimacy, and communication. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE 1Q 2011
THE LAURIEANN GIBSON PROJECT - Choreographer and principal dancer Laurieann Gibson (Making The Band) knows what it takes to make it, and knows real talent when she sees it. Now Laurieann joins forces with BET to give the next generation of dancers a chance to realize their dreams. Expect dramatic thrills every step of the way until the finale of this intense competition series. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE 3Q 2011
THE GAME - By popular demand, BET answers the prayers of Sabres fans everywhere. New episodes of THE GAME will be produced by and air exclusively on BET. After enjoying record ratings in syndication, THE GAME, created by Mara Brock Akil and executive produced by Kelsey Grammer and Salim Akil, will follow the lives of the fictitious San Diego Sabres-and the women who love them. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE 4Q 2010
THE KENNEDYS - BET drops viewers into the world of superstar skateboarder Terry Kennedy as he leverages his fortune and fame for both his extended family and his community. Ride with Terry as he surmounts the obstacles that come with launching an apparel line and breaking ground on a skate park in Watts, California. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE 4Q 2010
NEW SPECIALS ON BET
106 & PARK 10TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL - 106 & PARK has mirrored what's fresh and important in urban culture in a language that always speaks directly to the youth. Ten years later, 106 & PARK is still front and center. As part of BET Network's celebration of 30 years on the air, 106 & PARK throws the party of the year to commemorate a decade of showcasing all things hot. Expect a galaxy of stars from hip hop to Hollywood, plus interviews and performances that will look back at the biggest moments in 106 & PARK history. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE 4Q 2010
BLACK GIRLS ROCK: A CELEBRATION OF BLACK WOMEN - African American women are leading in the White House and the Fortune 500, dominating professional sports, driving political discourse, and winning Hollywood's top awards. A celebration is in order. Expect one without equal from BET. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE 4Q 2010
BET 30: 30 MOMENTS, 30 YEARS - BET celebrates 30 years of Black entertainment with a look back at thirty moments that shaped the channel and shook the world. From intimate interviews and revealing exclusives to electrifying performances, this special will serve as a time capsule of monumental moments in history as experienced through the unique lens of BET. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE 4Q 2010