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BET Strategic Opportunities - February 2009


INew programming presidents Loretha Jones and Stephen Hill were appointed in fourth quarter '08. Where will the network go now? A few new series are slated for first quarter, with reality remaining the dominant format. Political programming is also taking a more prominent seat on the network (Inaugural Ball, THE BET HONORS). THE GAME was brought to BET''s air from CW, and movies have been ramped up. Future announcements have been few and far between, as the network stays quiet about its plans.


BET is a great climate for new program ideas dealing with provocative African American themes.

The network has tried to address criticism that its programming is low-grade without social commentary, and has aired many news, political, documentary and issue-oriented programming. Programs and specials that deal with African American lifestyle, family, beliefs, community issues and experiences are all viable for BET.  Music is the core of many hours.

The success of celebrity reality series KEYSHIA COLE and DMX opened up new programming options for BET development and the viewer.  College reality series have done well and now celebrity formats of new and established African American artists are drawing viewers. And competition reality has also seen its fair-share of programming successes.


Off-Network sitcoms and premium cable series.


The network does not accept any unsolicited material.  You must be represented by an agent, attorney or production company.  There are two programming divisions that accept submissions both on the east coast and the west coast offices.  There is no e-mail submission process.


From a February 2009 interview in MultiChannel News, new co-president of programming Loretha Jones gave some insight to BET's expanding strategy: "I think our goal and whole idea is to reach a variety of ages and interests with a variety of genres of shows that we intend to bring to them. We have shows like [Harlem Heights] that may skew older and we have acquisitions like Smart Guy which skew younger. We're looking at developing an original animated show in the family vein so everyone from 8 to 80 can watch it. We're considering what's going to work best because we want to build our schedule in such a way that families feel comfortable leaving the channel on BET the whole time, but at the same time, depending on who's going to be home, servicing their needs as well."

BET has shown a willingness to invest in homemade comedies and dramas, turning away from the low-cost high-margin music videos and amateur comedians of the past. BET has tried to upgrade original programming that they can own and repurpose across platforms. The network continues to explore new programming genres, with some hits and a lot of misses, as it searches for those successful franchises.


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