Two weeks ago, Deadline reported that the venture was in the offing. The formal press release offered a couple of new details, notably the first original series ticketed for the new platform: First Wives Club, a new 10-episode scripted drama from Girls Trip screenwriter Tracy Oliver.
No pricing or exact launch date were announced for BET+.
“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 Networks President Scott Mills said. “Tyler Perry is the perfect partner for BET+. 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.”
“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. 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,” said Tyler Perry.
BET+ will offer a mix of African-American-focused dramas, sitcoms, films and specials. It will be the official home of Perry’s collected works across film, television and the stage, including films from the Madea series; original series House of Payne and Meet the Browns and a selection of Perry’s stage plays.
First Wives Club, a remake of the 1996 comedy starring Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton, will star Jill Scott, Ryan Michelle Bathe and Michelle Buteau. Other original series will be produced by Will Packer , the prolific producer known for hits like Ride Along and Think Like a Man as well as a new one from Perry himself.
PREVIOUSLY: BET and Tyler Perry later this month will announce a new subscription streaming offering, a source familiar with the plans confirmed to Deadline.
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.