BET Networks Restructures Leadership To Strengthen Ratings, Financial Performance

BET Networks Restructures Leadership To Strengthen Ratings, Financial Performance

BET Networks (Black Entertainment Television), the leading U.S. TV network targeting African American audiences, has restructured its leadership team.

Michael D. Armstrong has been appointed to the newly created position of general manager of BET Networks. Jeanine Liburd has been promoted to chief marketing and communications officer, and Donna Blackman has been promoted to senior vice president of business operations.

“Today’s announcement outlines key changes to our operating structure that further solidify our position as a thriving global brand,” said Debra Lee, chairman and CEO of BET Networks, in a press release.

“These appointments will strengthen our ability to drive growth in ratings and digital metrics, achieve strategic goals and deliver strong financial performance.”

“Michael exemplifies the values of strong, dynamic leadership – and his vast knowledge of our industry and how our audiences connect with content is unmatched. Known for their passion for our business and their strong experience in the industry, Jeanine and Donna have a proven track record of developing dynamic strategies that have accelerated growth, elevated brand awareness for BET and engaged consumers worldwide.

BET is a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIAB). The new executive team comes amid restructuring at multiple Viacom cable channels, Variety reported:

In a plan unveiled in February for revitalizing Viacom’s U.S. cable group, new CEO Bob Bakish identified six core cable brands that would be the focus of the significant resources going forward — BET, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., MTV, Comedy Central and Spike, which will re-launch as the Paramount Network in January 2018.

Viacom and its peers are under pressure as more viewers cancel cable subscriptions to watch content online and advertisers increasingly shift ad dollars to the web, Reuters reported in May:

The pay-TV industry just reported its worst-ever first quarter subscriber loss, at an estimated 726,000 subscribers, over five times last year’s loss of 141,000, according to a research note by MoffettNathanson.

Prior to his new role at BET, Armstrong was executive vice president and general manager of revenue and emerging brands at Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN). In his new role, Armstrong will be based in New York and report directly to Lee, He will drive strategy and operations, with direct oversight of content strategy and multiplatform scheduling, marketing, corporate communications and operations. He will also liaise with teams across Viacom’s Media Networks, including strategy, finance and research & audience science.

Liburd has been appointed chief marketing and communications officer, a new role at BET Networks. Liburd, who most recently led corporate communications, special events and corporate responsibility for the network, will add creative and brand marketing to her roster of responsibilities. She will oversee all facets of strategic and creative brand development, consumer marketing and cross-business initiatives.

In an expanded role as senior vice president of business operations, Donna Blackman will serve as the liaison for all internal BET Networks departments with Viacom Media Networks shared services. She will be responsible for strategic and long-range planning processes, evaluating and establishing external partnerships, and developing, monitoring and implementing financial strategies including growing ancillary revenue and live events. Liburd and Blackman will both report directly to Armstrong and are based in New York.

BET Networks provides entertainment, music, news and public affairs TV programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 90 million households and can be seen in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, the U.K. and sub-Saharan Africa. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand and includes BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; CENTRIC, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.