In summer 2017, Tyler Perry signed a mega-deal with Viacom that covers film, TV and short-form video. As his exclusive arrangement with OWN nears its conclusion next year, Perry talked about the Viacom play today at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and revealed discussions for a Tyler Perry OTT service as part of the deal while also touching on diversity and plugging his Atlanta-based Tyler Perry Studios.
A key factor in Perry’s decision to leave OWN and go to Viacom was a need for more options. “OWN is one channel and I have this huge machine that can churn out so much content. Viacom has many channels and outlets where I can place the content,” the prolific writer, director, producer and actor said.
With a traditional cable group, where is the streaming opportunity? Said Perry, “In that deal, we are talking about a Tyler Perry OTT which we’re really excited about, streaming to consumers as well. However, if you look at the stats on my audience, we’re still there. We’re still in that cable world. That’s why my shows are able to do so well in cable. As time goes on, we’ll make the progression. But being with a company like Viacom, they’re already ahead of it, already thinking about it.”
Also, he said, “I’m really excited to get to work with BET and get in side-by-side with those guys and bring something fresh.” The deal will see Perry produce approximately 90 episodes annually of original drama and comedy series for BET, which caters primarily to African-American audiences, and other Viacom networks.
Turning the discussion to diversity, Perry said he “took a lot of heat” during the #OscarsSoWhite campaign. “I didnt want to get into it. I respect all the people who were fighting for a seat at the table, but I was building my own table” via Tyler Perry Studios.
Perry continued, “By having a group of people who haven’t had their shot in Hollywood see that I’ve been able to do this has been such a beacon for so many people which is so important and so powerful to me. What I know for sure is that when people start to reflect the problems that we have, when those people rise to power, those problems go away. So it’s great to fight for a seat at the table, but at the same time I think more of us need to build our own tables, have our own share of IP so we can use what we have to elevate us all. Once you get in, then you open the door and let someone else in.”