FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2009
Jeanine Liburd, BET Networks
Bernadette Simpao, BET Networks
BET NETWORKS ANNOUNCES NEW SHOWS, A NEW BRAND STRATEGY AND A NEW NETWORK AT ITS 2009 UPFRONT PRESENTATION
Robust New Programming Line-Up Includes Late Night Variety Show with Mo'Nique, Reality Docudramas, Compelling News Programs, Returning Hit Series and Unparalleled Mega-Specials
BET Networks Announces the Launch of New Entertainment and Music Channel, CENTRIC
Presentation Features Special Appearances by Mary J. Blige, Mo'Nique, Anita Baker, Monica, MC Lyte, Mario Van Peebles, Jonathan Smith and More
New York, NY (BlackNews.com) - During its annual Upfront presentation to the advertising community, BET Networks will reveal a new, reinvigorated direction for the company at New York City's Nokia Theatre. Touting "This Is The Time," BET Networks will reinforce its leadership role as the leading media and entertainment brand for African Americans and consumers of Black culture through new programming announcements, as well as the unveiling of a new brand strategy, compelling research and consumer insights, and the launch of a new cable network, CENTRIC.
"Given the historic change our country has experienced, this is the perfect time for BET Networks to re-examine where we are as a company and what we can be for our audience," said Debra L. Lee, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, BET Networks. "As the #1 African American media company in the world, we have a unique opportunity to make the world of our audience better and provide them with quality entertainment that speaks to where they are in their lives and where they want to go. BET's reinvigorated approach is built on supporting families, embracing and encouraging their dreams, focusing on the issues that are important to them and presenting the freshest talent and entertainment."
"Coming off a hugely successful first quarter, with viewership on BET up 10% and BET.com page views up 77%, we're confident that our new programming line-up and brand strategy will allow us to build on our strong momentum," said Scott Mills, President and Chief Operating Officer, BET Networks. "We're also extremely excited about the launch of our new network, CENTRIC, which is designed for, focused on and central to the African American adult experience."
"In this ever-cluttered media environment, BET brings our advertising partners closer to the African American consumer than any other media company," said Louis Carr, President of Broadcast Media Sales, BET Networks. "Our research has shown us what our viewers expect and what they want from us, and we're responding by giving them the content that reflects and is relevant to who they are, is respectful of what they want to be, and elevates them to where they want to go. We'll be offering exciting new programming that will give our partners an unprecedented, powerful way to connect with these consumers -- young trendsetters, community organizers and trustees, and hard-working, multi-generational families."
NEW PROGRAMMING ON BET
During the Upfront presentation, BET will announce several new original series, including:
* THE MO'NIQUE SHOW, the network's new nightly talk/variety show featuring the incomparable actress/comedienne;
* CHANGING LANES, in partnership with The 909 Group and NASCAR Media Group, a unique and exciting series chronicling the search for the sport's next generation of drivers;
* CREWS CONTROL, a reality series about the life of talented actor Terry Crews (Everybody Hates Chris, Terminator Salvation), his wife Rebecca and their five kids;
* MONICA: STILL STANDING, a new docudrama following the GRAMMY® Award-winning artist as she balances raising a young family and making her comeback in the music industry; and
* THE HOLLYWOOD TREATMENT, a powerful reality series that pairs celebrities with individuals looking to transform their lives.
Returning series include 106 & PARK, the #1 music variety show on cable television; BET's hit gospel competition series SUNDAY BEST; and the #1 new original series on BET in 2008, BROTHERS TO BRUTHA.
CENTRIC: A NEW BET NETWORK
BET Networks also will announce its new entertainment and music channel, CENTRIC. This new network -- aimed at today's affluent, trend-setting, sophisticated African American adult -- was created through the collective creative resources and expertise of BET Networks and MTV Networks, and is scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter of 2009 in nearly 45 million homes.
Programming offered on CENTRIC will include: KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES, which will follow the drama-filled lives of Houston's high society; MODEL CITY, a series about young African American male models trying to make it in New York City; REAL LIFE DIVAS and LEADING MEN, profile shows about African American women and men who have impacted American culture; and URBAN LIVIN', a chic lifestyle interior design show.
MORE ON BET AND CENTRIC'S NEW PROGRAMMING
Included in today's Upfront presentation will be announcements regarding upcoming new series on BET and the network's returning hits:
Upcoming New Series on BET
* THE MO'NIQUE SHOW -- Whatever the subject, when Mo'Nique talks about it, everything is up for discussion. The no-holds-barred two-time host of the BET AWARDS and Sundance Festival Award-winning dramatic actor brings her signature style and fun to this new late night talk show. Without a doubt, Mo'Nique will be bringing the magic back to late night. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE Q4 2009
* CHANGING LANES -- Jonathan Smith and Michael Cherry are fresh faces chasing their racing dreams in NASCAR. BET embarks on its own great race to discover tomorrow's stars in America's most-watched form of motorsports with a blazing hot one-hour series chronicling the search for the sport's next generation of drivers. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE Q2 2010
* CREWS CONTROL -- Veteran actor Terry Crews (Everybody Hates Chris) and his vivacious, no-nonsense wife Rebecca have been through a lot in their 20-year marriage. On the outside, they are the picture of class and calm. But behind closed doors, this Hollywood power couple struggles like all families do. Watch as they work to instill traditional Christian values in their five children-four daughters and one son ranging in age from 22 to 3. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE Q1 2010
* FIRST IN -- FIRST IN is a reality docu-drama that drops viewers into the world of a city's real life heroes: the men and women of emergency response teams (firefighters and paramedics) who are the first on the scene of accidents and crimes. The minute the station alarm goes off the camera goes on. Viewers are taken inside emergency vehicles, on the chase to save lives and eventually into Compton's local hospital. Whether it's a fight with fire or with a crack abuser, this team is FIRST IN. Their stories will rivet audiences like no other original series. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE Q4 2009
* THE HOLLYWOOD TREATMENT -- Mary J. Blige stars in the pilot of this makeover reality show with a big heart. Each week, a celebrity helps to give an individual a life transformation in partnership with a foundation chosen by the celebrity or individual. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE Q1 2010
* MONICA: STILL STANDING -- Follow GRAMMY® Award-winning singer Monica as she balances raising a young family and making a comeback in the music world. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE Q4 2009
* PAY IT OFF -- The first game show to give contestants the chance to get out of the red comes to BET. PAY IT OFF explores the personal debt dilemmas of everyday people, then challenges them to pay off their bills one at a time. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE Q4 2009
* A TIME TO LAUGH -- Hosted by Stellar Award-winning Gospel dynamo Vickie Winans, this new series packs a hilarious punch with the best in gospel stand-up with dynamic dancers, musical artists, and fast-paced Bible story improv from a fresh urban contemporary perspective. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE Q1 2010
Upcoming BET News Programming
* THE BOTTOM LINE -- How do the decisions made in the Oval Office, the Supreme Court and the halls of Congress affect our daily lives? How do the edicts and policies from our churches, cultural institutions and advocacy organizations impact our communities and families? Each week BET News will rise above the clatter of cable chatter and get to THE BOTTOM LINE on Black America's most pressing issues. Each week a diverse panel of our most prolific writers, thinkers, leaders and cultural icons will provide vital insight and analysis. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE Q1 2010
* HEART OF THE CITY -- From gang wars to police brutality to the sexually transmitted disease epidemic facing young women, BET News goes inside America's cities to examine the issues devastating our communities and their impact on residents. HEART OF THE CITY will tell the stories of those most directly affected, and go beyond simply reporting on the challenges to highlighting the efforts of those working tirelessly to create change with real solutions. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE Q3 2009
* IN DEPTH -- Our lives are often misunderstood, and consequently, are in turn critically misinterpreted by mainstream media. We seldom get the chance to tell our own stories. Enter IN DEPTH, an on-going series of quarterly specials examining our lives and the trends and influences that define who we are as a community. From the crippling AIDS epidemic to the current realities facing Black women to the ever-changing structure of the Black family, IN DEPTH will tell the stories and uncover the facts, revealing our truths. IN DEPTH gives voice to the lives and experiences of Black people in America from the unique, award-winning perspective of BET News. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE Q4 2009
Returning Hits on BET
* 106 & PARK -- The network's flagship music program is also the #1 music variety show on cable television. 106 & PARK continues to count down the top 10 video hits as the biggest celebrities hit the couch and the stage with hosts Terrence and Rocsi. From its eye-catching new set to interactive new segments and the liveliest audience ever, 106 & PARK wins by a landslide!
* BOBBY JONES GOSPEL -- GRAMMY® winner Dr. Bobby Jones, Jr., the "Ambassador of Gospel" and host of the longest continuously running original series on cable television, delivers his ministry and praise on the network's flagship gospel program and the longest-running gospel program on cable. This weekly standout features joyous performances and riveting interviews from gospel music's most talented entertainers, choirs, evangelists, and others.
* BROTHERS TO BRUTHA -- BROTHERS TO BRUTHA is BET's #1 new original series of 2008. Season one of this heart-wrenching family reality smash asked the question: can their music heal their past? Now that the album is complete, season two shows us the impact fame and acclaim have on the brothers...and the group as a whole. RETURNING Q4 2009
* SUNDAY BEST -- Season one discovered gospel sensation Crystal Aikin. Right from the gate, season two smashed ratings records in its new time slot. As television's #1 gospel series, SUNDAY BEST promises to sweep the nation with another big win for a third season as BET searches for the next great gospel star! RETURNING Q1 2010
Returning Mega-Specials on BET
* BET AWARDS '10 -- The BET AWARDS is the #1 program in cable television history among Black households, and #1 with African American viewers 18-34 for the seventh consecutive year. This year's show promises to set even bigger milestones. RETURNING Q2 2010
* CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL -- CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL rings in each new year with awe-inspiring power and anointed, electrifying performances. Always a star-studded gathering of gospel and R&B greats, CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL holds the crown as the highest-rated gospel program anywhere on television for eight years running. RETURNING Q1 2010
* BET HIP HOP AWARDS -- The BET HIP HOP AWARDS specifically pay tribute to a culture that changed the world. With style, substance, and swagger like no other, the BET HIP HOP AWARDS 2008 was the #1 hip-hop themed telecast on television for the third consecutive year. RETURNING Q4 2009
* THE BET HONORS -- THE BET HONORS celebrates our best and brightest: entrepreneurs, corporate citizens, educators, public servants and entertainers are lauded with moving musical tributes. Hailed by "The Washington Post" as an event that "favored achievement with honor over gaudy success," THE BET HONORS is the bridge between generations. RETURNING Q1 2010
* RIP THE RUNWAY -- RIP THE RUNWAY sets the best of Black fashion to music. Electric performances, bold designers and sexy models melt the winter chill. No wonder it's the #1 fashion themed telecast on television three years running! RETURNING Q1 2010
* SPRING BLING -- SPRING BLING is the ultimate spring break celebration that has become a BET staple. The week is full of incredible performances, picture-perfect young men and women, and the hottest new shows under the sun. RETURNING Q2 2010
Upcoming Documentaries on BET
* BRING YOUR A-GAME -- Through a partnership with the 21st Century Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, BET will present BRING YOUR A-GAME, a documentary that sheds light on the resilience and influence of Black males and features Chris Rock, Diddy, Dick Parsons, Hill Harper and more. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE Q3 2009
* PRESSURE COOKER -- PRESSURE COOKER is a powerful documentary that follows a dedicated Baltimore-based teacher and her students, who win scholarships by unconventional means: through a gourmet cooking contest. SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE Q4 2009
Upcoming Programming on Centric
* KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES -- Follow the lives of Houston's high society in this new series, KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES. PREMIERING Q1 2010
* MODEL CITY -- This new series takes a look at the world behind the runway, featuring young Black male models trying to make it in New York City. PREMIERING Q1 2010
* LEADING MEN -- Meet the LEADING MEN who live their lives in public and allow viewers to take a rare look at their private side. Prominent African American men who have impacted American culture artistically, socially, and politically are candid and revealing. PREMIERING Q4 2009
* REAL LIFE DIVAS -- REAL LIFE DIVAS gives a behind-the-scenes look and an intimate sneak peak into phenomenal divas' lives as they share their personal accounts about their meteoric celebrity rise to fame, and how they've overcome their personal challenges to effortlessly balancing family and demanding careers. PREMIERING Q4 2009
* URBAN LIVIN' -- Hosted by esteemed interior design guru Helen Bailey, URBAN LIVIN' inspires viewers with new ideas for decorating and revamping the home. PREMIERING Q4 2009
For up-to-the-minute and archival press information including releases and photographs, visit BET's press-only Web site at www.bet.com/pr
ABOUT BET NETWORKS
BET Networks, a division of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), is the nation's leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 98 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of businesses extensions: BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET in the United Kingdom and oversees the extension of BET network programming for global distribution.
Jeanine Liburd, BET Networks
Bernadette Simpao, BET Networks