There are more than 200 streaming services in the U.S., many of them seeking to replace waning carriage fees and advertising revenue with subscriptions. As technology and viewer habit and choice evolves, the traditional pay-TV bundle continues to show signs of strain, forcing media companies to explore new business models.
The BET service, to be called BET+, will target African-American viewers and draft off of the long-term production deal between Perry and Viacom. In addition to titles from Tyler Perry Studios, the new outlet will offer TV shows and films from fellow Viacom flagships MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central. Perry is expected to plug the initiative at this month’s BET Awards.
Viacom has for several years operated a couple of SVOD services, including Comedy Central Now and Noggin, which specializes in preschool programming from Nickelodeon. It has refrained from additional stand-alone launches in favor of an advertiser-friendly strategy represented by its acquisition of Pluto TV last January for $340 million. Pluto is a free, ad-supported aggregator of streaming channels. Many of Viacom’s core networks have launched AVOD streaming versions on Pluto in recent weeks.
Pricing has not been finalized for the BET service, but it will likely be more than the $3 per month for Comedy Central Now, the source indicated.
For Viacom, the streaming initiative comes as the company is expected to re-start merger talks with CBS, with which it shares a controlling shareholder, National Amusements.
News of the BET streaming service was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
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