There was a showstopper of an opener by Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar on the BET Awards last night, plus a passionate call to action from Grey’s Anatomy’s Jesse Williams, a full tilt tribute to Prince performed by Bilal, Erykah Badu and The Roots, and strong words for Donald Trump from Best Actress winner Taraji P. Henson of Empire. Also, the late great Muhammad Ali was praised by daughter Laila and Samuel L. Jackson was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by his Jungle Fever and Chi-Raq director Spike Lee.
Even facing the Season 6 finale of Game Of Thrones, there was also a 7.2 million viewers watching the ceremony simulcast live on 12 Viacom networks – the largest platform ever for the 15-year-old awards show. Up 11% in total viewers from last year, when the ceremony was only shown on BET and Centric and didn’t battle GoT, this year’s show was seen on BET plus MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Logo, Spike and Centric among others.
In the 18-49 demo, the BET Awards drew 3.8 million viewers, making it again the top cable awards show of the TV season – just like last year but with a 10% uptick. Ratingswise, last night’s show snagged a 4.27 in the key demo across the Viacom dozen – that’s up 15% from last year.
For a fourth year in a row, attendance for the four-day BET Experience in downtown Los Angeles was up, by 10% to 165,000 visitors.