BET Increases Reality Focus

by , Apr 26, 2006, 8:01 AM
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BET is making a big push into reality as it seeks to bolster its prime-time menu. Shows offering an up-close look at an emerging football star and a hardcore rapper--plus a new take on the increasingly popular sport of ultimate fighting--highlight the network's new programming slate unveiled at its upfront.

The network also said it would join a slew of other networks in launching a broadband channel, BET on Blast, on its Web site. And to emphasize multiplatform ad opportunities, the network is using the tagline "Whatever, Whenever, Wherever" for its upfront pitching.

The reality shows scheduled for this summer and fall include "Next Level: Vince Young," which follows the college football star as he prepares for his debut in the NFL; "DMX: Soul of a Man," which promises to reveal the rapper's life away from the spotlight where he's a caring father and friendly taxpayer in a small Arizona town; and "Iron Ring," a new take on ultimate fighting with minority gladiators and celebrity managers.

"As successful as BET has been in the past 25 years, I knew that an aggressive investment in original programming...could turn BET from a beast to a monster," said Reginald Hudlin, BET President of Entertainment.

Other shows on tap include "Star Time: Keyshia Cole," which chronicles the up-and-coming pop diva's rise to stardom, and "American Gangster," a documentary-style show about the country's most notorious black gangsters.

BET also announced new hosts for its top-rated show "106 & Park: BET Top 10 Live:" Chicago radio DJ, Rocsi, and Atlanta personality Terrence J. Both were discovered in an open casting call.

BET, which targets African-Americans in the 18-to-34 demo, has a prime median age this season of 26.8. The network, however, believes that by targeting the younger demo, it appeals to a wider audience in the process.

"The black adult 18-to-34 audience is not only the sweet spot for African Americans, but also for the broader population...It's also the magnet for every other demo," said Louis Carr, BET President of Advertising Media Sales.

Prime-time ratings this season are up 25 percent in households and 50 percent among adults 18 to 49, although flat in the adult 25-to-54 demo.

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