BET Networks Unveils New African American Consumer Market Research and New Programming at 2010 Upfront Presentation

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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

TOP 10 RAPPERS OF THE 21ST CENTURY – This countdown of new millennium MCs is sure to set the Internet ablaze with chatter. We’re only ten years into the century, but these lyricists have taken hip hop to new places. There’s no better channel than BET to rank them with the help of your favorite cultural commentators, videos and media highlights. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE 4Q 2010

A VERY BET CHRISTMAS – The holidays are a time for joy, music and family. For the first time ever, BET brings together a stellar lineup of the year’s hottest talent to celebrate the season with a charitable New York City concert and surprise guests. A VERY BET CHRISTMAS will both express our gratitude and renew our faith. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE 4Q 2010

RETURNING HITS ON BET

106 & PARK – After ten years and over 2,000 episodes, the network’s flagship music program remains the #1 music video countdown show anywhere on television. 106 & PARK continues to count down the top ten video hits as A-list music, film, television, and sports celebrities appear with hosts Terrence and Rocsi. With new interactive segments, Wild Out Wednesday, Freestyle Friday and the livest audience ever, 106 & PARK amplifies the voice of a generation.

BOBBY JONES GOSPEL – GRAMMY® winner Dr. Bobby Jones, Jr., the “Ambassador of Gospel” and host of the longest continuously running original series on cable television, delivers his ministry and praise on the network’s flagship gospel program and the longest-running gospel program on cable. This weekly standout features joyous performances and riveting interviews from gospel music’s most talented entertainers, choirs, evangelists, and others.

THE FAMILY CREWS – America’s favorite sitcom dad Terry Crews (Everybody Hates Chris) has his hands full with his real-world family of seven. Season One saw Terry renew his vows to Rebecca, his dynamic wife of 20 years. The family also prepared for the arrival of their first grandchild. THE FAMILY CREWS is growing up and getting bigger. Let’s see how our action hero handles it all in the second season.

THE MO’NIQUE SHOW – Uncompromising and unstoppable, multiple award winner Mo’Nique (Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA, NAACP Image Award, and Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actress) returns for another incredible season of laugh-out-loud comedy, candid celebrity interviews, and sensational musical guests you won’t see anywhere else. Expect new heights as Mo’Nique continues to change the face of late night.

TOYA – Antonia ‘Toya’ Carter returns to BET after two seasons with best friend Tiny. With the titles of mother, author and reality superstar under her belt, viewers will get to see more of the woman no longer in the shadow of her ex husband, Lil’ Wayne. 2011 belongs to Toya.

RETURNING MEGA-SPECIALS ON BET

BET HIP HOP AWARDS – The BET HIP HOP AWARDS pays tribute to a culture that changed the world. With style, substance, and swagger like no other, the BET HIP HOP AWARDS 2009 was the #1 hip hop-themed telecast on television for the third consecutive year. RETURNING 4Q 2010

THE BET HONORS – THE BET HONORS celebrates our best and brightest: entrepreneurs, corporate citizens, educators, public servants and entertainers are lauded with moving musical tributes. Hailed by The Washington Post as an event that “favored achievement with honor over gaudy success,” THE BET HONORS is the bridge between generations. RETURNING 1Q 2011

CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL – CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL rings in each new year with awe-inspiring power and anointed, electrifying performances. Always a star-studded gathering of gospel and R&B greats, CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL holds the crown as the highest-rated gospel program anywhere on television for nine years running. RETURNING 1Q 2011

RIP THE RUNWAY – RIP THE RUNWAY sets the best of Black fashion to music. Electric performances, bold designers and sexy models melt the winter chill. No wonder it’s the #1 fashion-themed telecast on television three years running! RETURNING 1Q 2011

BET AWARDS – The BET AWARDS is the most watched awards program among African American viewers in cable history, and #1 with African American viewers 18-34 year after year. After an unparalleled 10th anniversary extravaganza, the BET AWARDS will continue to deliver unforgettable moments, tributes, and performances in 2011. RETURNING 2Q 2011

SPRING BLING – Packed with stars and fans, this weekend of performances and beachfront games is the ultimate Spring Break celebration. RETURNING 2Q 2011

NEW PROGRAMMING ON CENTRIC

VINDICATED – VINDICATED illuminates the journeys of men and women exonerated for crimes they did not commit. This docu-series takes a compassionate, hopeful look at an often painful and unjust past with exonerees adjusting to life beyond prison walls in the present. Hosted by Common. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE 1Q 2011

THE STEVE HARVEY PROJECT – Award-winning comedian and author, Steve Harvey, and his co-hosts light up weekday mornings with the STEVE HARVEY MORNING SHOW. The show features the latest in news, entertainment, and celebrity interviews and the offers dating advice through the popular Strawberry Letter segments and is coming to TV via CENTRIC. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE 4Q 2010

ALMOST MARRIED – Some walks down the aisle take longer — or take unexpected turns along the way. This original reality series chronicles the path of former SUNDAY BEST competitors Latice Crawford and Jeff Spain, a young, faithful African American couple on their way to marital bliss, from setting the date to jumping the broom. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE 4Q 2010

RETURNING HITS ON CENTRIC

LEADING MEN – Meet the LEADING MEN who live their lives in public and allow viewers to take a rare look at their private side. Prominent African American men who have impacted American culture artistically, socially, and politically are candid and revealing.

LEADING WOMEN – One-on-one conversations provide an intimate look at the private lives of dynamic, powerful sisters who lead. Learn how these LEADING WOMEN make time for family, work, friendships, and most of all, themselves.

SOUL TRAIN AWARDS – Showcasing the evolution of SOUL TRAIN’s impact on musical history from the ’70s to now, the new SOUL TRAIN AWARDS is all about the melodic marriage of music and dance. Expect the best soul singing talent to show out and be celebrated!

About BET Networks

BET Networks, a division of Viacom Inc. (NYSE:VIA) (NYSE:VIA.B) , is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions: BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; CENTRIC, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the 25- to 54-year-old African-American audience; BET Digital Networks – BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; BET Event Productions, a full-scale event management and production company with festivals and live events spanning the globe; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET in the United Kingdom and oversees the extension of BET network programming for global distribution.

CONTACT: Kimberlee Bradshaw of BET Networks, +1-212-205-3154,
Kimberlee.Bradshaw@bet.net

Source: BET + HipHopPress

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