The service dubbed BET Plus will bow in the fall with a handful of original series and productions and a deep library offering that will be enhanced by other properties in Viacom’s portfolio. There was no word yet on a monthly price for BET Plus, which is set to debut in the fall.
BET Plus joins a parade of subscription VOD offerings set to rollout during the next year of so. Although the marketplace is getting crowded, BET Networks president Scott Mills said the company sees opportunity in a streaming offering targeted to the audiences for BET and Perry’s productions. Viacom said BET Plus would feature more than 1,000 hours of content at launch.
The comedy series “First Wives Club” will premiere on BET Plus, after originally being developed for Viacom’s linear Paramount Network cabler. Viacom said the service’s original content slate will include a new series from Perry and a separate series from producer Will Packer.
“African-Americans are the leading consumers of streaming services, with higher SVOD adoption rates than other consumers, which is why we’re so excited to launch a premium product for this underserved audience. BET Plus is a natural extension of BET’s linear network, which has been the leading home of black culture for decades,” said Mills. “Tyler Perry is the perfect partner for BET Plus. The combination of new, original shows and his giant library of popular movies, series and stage plays that Tyler brings to our joint venture creates an amazing product for his large and passionate fan base.”
Viacom’s move on BET Plus underscores the reasoning behind the rich and wide-ranging production pact that Viacom reached with Perry in July 2017. BET Plus will be the streaming home of his long-running “Madea” comedy franchise and it will host videos of the touring stage plays that made Perry a force among in the African-American community starting in the 1990s.
Viacom’s move on BET Plus comes as the company is believed to be circling merger talks with CBS Corp., it’s corporate sibling under the Redstone family umbrella. BET Plus is seemingly the kind of niche streaming service that could easily tuck in to the CBS All Access SVOD platform that the Eye has been building up since 2014.
Perry likely has a stake in the venture as he is contributing his own library, which is a big selling point.
“In our industry, the way people consume content is constantly evolving. I’ve paid attention to my audience and what works for them and, for that reason, I’m very excited not only about the idea of partnering with BET to create new and exciting content, but also about the idea of giving people a personalized experience through the ability to curate the content they love to consume,” Perry said. “On a personal level, this will also be the first time I’ll be working in areas like unscripted and variety television, which will afford me the opportunity to work in fresh, creative ways with new voices and to discover new talent.”