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BET Analysis


The BET Monday - Friday schedule typically features a movie each night at 8 or 9 with original programming / encores filling the remaining hour. Premiere night for new series is Tuesday. The practice of scattering encores throughout the week has been curtailed (for the most part), giving movies a dominant, if not prominent role. Sunday night is an ever-changing mix of programming, including movies, original series, encores, news specials and encores of specials.


Live + Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / April 2013 vs. April 2012  (% Change)

*Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

APRIL 2013:  BET was not able to climb out of its ratings hole this month, even with the assistance of new seasons of THE GAME and LET’S STAY TOGETHER. Target women 18-49 ratings were off by 19% vs. last year, with double digit declines on every night of the week except Wednesdays (+6%).  Female ratings held vs. last month, but after a growth spurt earlier in the year, male numbers took a 30% dive, and are at their lowest levels in over a year. Apparently they were missing last month’s HUSBANDS OF HOLLYWOOD.

BET’s annual special, CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL was back this month, airing on Sunday the 7th to introduce THE SHEARDS, the new docu-drama highlighting the day-to-day life of Grammy Award winning gospel songstress, Karen Clark Sheard and her family. Launching a new program after a tentpole event has proven to be a successful strategy for BET before, as it gives the new program a large, built-in audience to sample the premiere ep. And, the content synergies are there with this pairing.

However, BET’s awards programs and specials have been underperforming this year, and CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL was no exception. Women 18-49 ratings were off by 31% vs. last year’s performance. In fact, each premiere of THE GAME and LET’S STAY TOGETHER drew more women 18-49.

THE SHEARDS debut held a big percentage of GOSPEL’s lead-in, giving it a rank of the 15th best-rated women 18-49 telecast of the month. (GOSPEL ranked 10th). After debut week the numbers dropped precipitously, and the total program average for the month was below the monthly primetime average.

THE GAME and LET’S STAY TOGETHER were back for a delayed start last month with a new cast in place. The debuts were strong for BET, but weak in comparison to their past performances. That trend continued into this month. The four premiere episodes of THE GAME were the #1 - #4 ranked telecasts among women 18-49, while LET’S STAY TOGETHER held the #5 - #8 slots. Compared to their total performance (premieres plus encores) from April 2012, THE GAME is underdelivering by 10% while LET’S STAY TOGETHER is off by 25%.

The rest of the schedule was filled with a lot of encores: THE GAME and TOGETHER’s past and present seasons, plus a few REAL HUSBANDS, CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL and a BET AWARDS SHOW.

Movies quietly hold a lot of inventory on the BET primetime line-up. Twenty movies fell within Nielsen’s primetime parameters this April, and together they hit above the primetime average. The best rated title of the month was For Colored Girls among women and Friday After Next among men.

BET released its plans for the future at its 2013/2014 upfront presentation. While the list is not deep, it is broad. New projects range from a movie (Being Mary Jane), unscripted reality (BURNS BBQ), comedy (COMIC VIEW) and a talk show (TD JAKES PRESENTS). Returning programs include 106 & PARK, APOLLO LIVE, BOBBY JONES GOSPEL, LET’S STAY TOGETHER, REAL HUSBANDS OF HOLLYWOOD, SUNDAY BEST, and of course, THE GAME.