Paramount Is Looking To Sell BET, Tyler Perry Interested: 5 Things To Know

Paramount Is Looking To Sell BET, Tyler Perry Interested: 5 Things To Know

Paramount sell BET

Tyler Perry at the Oscars in Los Angeles, Feb. 24, 2019 (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Actor and producer Tyler Perry, who owns a minority stake in Paramount’s BET+ streaming service, is interested in acquiring a majority stake of BET Media Group, which includes the cable channels BET and VH1, from Paramount Global, according to people familiar with the matter.

If the sale goes through, that could put part of BET, which caters mainly to Black audiences, back in majority-Black ownership for the first time in 22 years.

Paramount also owns CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures. Strengthening Paramount+ has been a priority as the media conglomerate competes with other major streaming services such as Netflix, Walt Disney’s Disney+, and Warner Bros. Discovery’s HBO Max, Wall Street Journal reported.

Perry has a long history with Paramount

In addition to his minority stake in BET+, Perry also produces a large portion of the programming available on BET and streamer BET+, which he helped launch in 2019. Paramount helped fund his first feature film in 2005 — “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” In 2017, Perry began working on a long-term TV film deal with Paramount that kicked off in 2020. 

Perry’s TV projects available on BET and BET+ include “House of Payne,” “Sisters,” “The Oval,” “Ruthless,” “Zatima” and “Assisted Living.”

Paramount has other Black stakeholders

BET’s divisions include production company BET Studios, which counts among its minority stakeholders Kenya Barris and Aaron Rahsaan Thomas. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Paramount Global is interested in selling off part of BET.

Company has had layoffs

New York-based Paramount Global is smaller than most of its competition and it has been hit hard by declines in cable TV viewership, Los Angeles Times reported. In recent years, Paramount Global has searched for ways to raise money through asset sales to pay down debt. Earlier this year, Paramount laid off 120 employees and had significant leadership changes across the board after announcing it would rebrand Showtime’s linear and streaming platforms as Paramount+ With Showtime, folding the brand into Paramount+.

Perry has a desire to expand his empire

BET established itself as the go-to cable destination for Black-themed shows more than 40 years ago. In recent years, Perry’s programs, including “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne,” have performed well on BET, Los Angeles Times reported. He has shown a willingness to expand his empire, which includes his popular “Madea” movie franchise and a 300-acre studio complex near Atlanta.

Perry is a New York Times best-selling author, and masterminded more than 17 movies, 20 stage plays, and seven TV shows. He is considered the most successful Black filmmaker in history.

BET lost its Black-owned business status in 2000

Illinois native Robert L. Johnson launched the BET cable TV network in 1980 after stepping down as a lobbyist for the cable industry with the help of a $15,000 loan and a $500,000 investment from media executive John Malone. In 1991, the network became the first Black-controlled TV company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

In 2000, the network lost its status as a Black-owned business when it was bought by media conglomerate Viacom — now called Paramount Global — for $3 billion. Johnson retired from the network in 2005 and former vice president Debra L. Lee became president and CEO.