BET Analysis - June 2010


* Bold denotes programming change


The BET Monday - Friday schedule typically features a movie each night at 8, with original programming or encores running at 10. Premiere nights for new series are usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays with plenty of encores scattered irregularly throughout the rest of the week. Saturdays are all movies and Sunday night is a mix of programming, including movies, original series, encores, news specials and encores of specials.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / June 2010 vs. June 2009  (% Change)

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

June 2010: June is the big month at BET. The network's Super Bowl of events, THE BET AWARDS SHOW airs at the end of the month. Last year was the best-rated awards show ever for BET, as Michael Jackson's passing coincided with the show. This year's live telecast on Sunday, June 27, drew 7.4 million total viewers, making it the second best-rated awards show, according to BET. The 2010 AWARDS SHOW delivered one-third the adult 18-49 viewers of the 2009 AWARDS SHOW.
There was no way the 2010 ceremony was going to top 2009, but BET made June a month-long pre-game show, airing encores and highlights of 2009 along with Michael Jackson tributes through-out primetime. In total, there was one full 2009 encore, Jacksons: The American Dream parts 1, 2 & 3, Michael Jackson Our Icon, MJ History: King of Pop and 3 telecasts of SMASH! BEST OF BET AWARDS, all leading into the BET AWARDS 2010. Which adds up to 10 telecasts and 17.5 hours of primetime programming. That's nearly one-fifth of June's programming time.
The other big news at BET for June was SUNDAY BEST. The program came to its finale on June 20th, producing the second-highest rated telecast on households and 25-54 demos for the month. SUNDAY BEST continued to gain strength with each successive week. The only issue with the program might be its higher median age, no doubt fueled by 79-year old runner-up Elder Goldwire McLendon.
But wait, there was one more piece of good news. TINY & TOYA came to a conclusion, with the June 22 finale pulling in the second best ratings of the month among the more coveted 18-49 set.
And yet, all of that was still not enough to touch last year's ratings levels. In fact, with the exception of Sunday nights, BET had trouble meeting last month's ratings levels as well. COLLEGE HILL's high ratings are missed this year, but the most damage was caused by the lower rated, more male-skewing movie titles BET carried this June. Which shows that ratings spikes are great, but they are better when they work in tandem with your bread and butter programming.


So was June a success or not for BET? Buzz-wise it was a winning month with lots to talk about, primarily another huge audience turn-out for the most successful cable awards show franchise, TINY & TOYA and SUNDAY BEST also proved to be strong franchises on the BET line-up. But bottom-line, ratings are down, and that is where the money is made.

The future of BET's programming is pretty clear. The best bet for a new program will have a celebrity and/or reality and/ or musical element to it, with a strong female appeal. Those programs tend to have a short shelf life; so development needs to stay active to support this strategy.

BET has declared that programming that centers on the family is their main focus. Citing internal research studies, particularly "African Americans Revealed," the net says that the most relevant insight they found was the importance of family; 88% of those studied cited family as their top priority. This fits in nicely with the female direction BET primetime has been taking for the past year. (If not the latenight music videos).

After a failed attempt at scripted drama with HARLEM HEIGHTS in 2009, the network will jump back into that game with THE GAME and LET'S STAY TOGETHER in the 2010/2011 season. Specials continue to spike the numbers, and we can expect to see more of them next year.

BET continues to use its political and social voice in the form of on-air programming.  The network has made a public commitment to Michelle Obama's childhood obesity effort Let's Move, and will incorporate the messaging into talk shows, news programming and specials.