BET to Rock All Weekend

BET will continue to expand its annual BET Awards show from a onenight live TV event to a weekend-long festival featuring concerts and other exhibits.

The BET Experience, which launched last year at the L.A. Live pavilion in Los Angeles, will return this year from June 27 to 29, with events the network hopes will attract more than 100,000 attendees, according to Stephen Hill, BET president of music programming and specials.

“The BET Awards over the years has been the pre-eminent destination on television for African-Americans, but also a lot of people come to Los Angeles that don’t have tickets the show just to be part of the experience,” he said. “So we decided to put some structure around the energy that was already there organically.”

Last year’s BET Experience drew more than 100,000 attendees over the three days leading up to the live BET Awards telecast and featured a number of concerts; an interactive expo in which attendees could engage with their favorite BET stars; exhibit booths for BET and sister network Centric materials, as well as other attractions. Among the highlights of the three-day event this year are several indoor and outdoor concert performances featuring such R&B performers as Jill Scott, Maxwell and Outkast; a celebrity basketball game; and a “Genius Talks” interview session with undefeated world boxing champion Floyd Mayweather.

“We’ve created a full weekend of activities for our audience to enjoy throughout the weekend,” Hill said. “This is the biggest chance we get all year to interact and watch the audience that watches us.”

The events will precede the live June 29 BET Awards telecast, which will be hosted by Chris Rock. Among the performers slated to appear on the show include Pharrell Williams, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Drake, Lil Wayne, Trey Songz and Lionel Richie. Last year’s show drew 7.7 million viewers, topping the 7.4 million viewers garnered by the 2012 presentation.

“The BET Awards are the premiere destination every year for BET — it’s a chance to celebrate everyone’s successes within music,” Hill said.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.