Digital Relaunch Takes Center Stage At BET Upfront

BET announced nine new shows at its upfront presentation in New York on Wednesday. But the network is also emphasizing a planned relaunch of its digital platforms next week as a crucial component of its sales and marketing efforts.

The relaunch of BET Digital takes place next Wednesday (April 27), encompassing BET's "entire digital ecosystem ... across desktop computers, mobile and tablet platforms," the company said.

"BET's digital platforms and BET Now App will introduce a completely relaunched and industry best-in-class digital ecosystem with several new components unique to the digital space, including dynamic content feeds, simplified content discovery, cutting-edge designs that incorporate peek-through advertising and messaging opportunities on all electronic devices," BET stated.

Adding to BET's digital emphasis this upfront season, the company announced "enhanced partnerships" with two social-network companies -- Snapchat and WhoSay, a content marketing company.

"BET's innovative partnership with WhoSay will allow brands to leverage African-American influencers with high-impact opportunities that will build authentic brand narratives and bridge the gap between celebrities and the BET audience," BET said.

Like other networks this upfront season, BET's digital enhancements are aimed at marrying the content on the company's linear networks -- BET (the cable channel) and its sister channel Centric, aimed mainly at African-American women -- with the engagement the network is seeing for its shows on social media.

"Not only is our content more authentic, powerful and relevant, but now it's more accessible across more channels and platforms than ever before. It gives our audience more ways to interact with the BET brand than ever before," said Louis Carr, president of media sales for BET Networks.

Where the content is concerned, BET's new show announcements included five new scripted series and four nonscripted.

The scripted shows are: "Tales," described as a one-hour anthology series of "song stories"; "The Yard," a drama series about a fictional historically black college; "Benched," a series BET is billing as a dramedy about a swinging bachelor who is appointed to a judgeship and then must give up his free-wheeling bachelor's lifestyle; and "Rebel," a cop drama that will explore the challenges faced by "police officers of color" in an era of racial conflicts between police and minority communities.

Also, "Comedy Get Down," a scripted comedy, addressing whaat goes on behind-the-scenes of a mega-comedy tour featuring five top comedians. The five are George Lopez, Cedric the Entertainer, DL Hughley, Eddie Griffin and Charlie Murphy.

The four nonscripted shows are: "Music Moguls," a series of biographical documentaries about some of the best-known impresarios in popular music; "Gary Owen Family," starring a white comedian -- Owen -- described by BET as "arguably Black America's most-beloved non-Black comic"; "Joyful Noise," a gospel music showcase; and "One Shot," a rap-and-performance competition show that will try and discover new hip-hop talent.

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