BET is pushing boldly ahead into what's increasingly a crowded landscape for subscription-based streamers.
The upcoming BET+ service, a joint venture between Viacom's BET Networks and media mogul Tyler Perry's self-named production studio, will launch domestically Sept. 19.
Priced at $9.99 a month, the ad-free subscription video-on-demand service will beat two sound-alike streaming services with deeper pockets—Disney+, set to launch Nov. 12, and Apple TV+, also expected in November—into the market.
In a Monday press release, BET+ detailed its content strategy. Out of the gate, the service will offer more than 1,000 hours of programming, including series, films, and standup specials. Described as "the leading home of black culture for decades" in its press release, BET will seek to make "content curated for the underserved African American audience."
Among the starriest names featured on the platform initially are Perry (also aligned with the service via his newly formed production company Peachtree & Vine), Tracy Oliver, and Will Packer.
All are working on original series for BET+.
Jill Scott will star in First Wives Club, with scribe Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip) executive-producing all nine episodes. A modern remake of the 1996 revenge comedy starring Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton, the series employs an all-star cast of African-American actors, also including Ryan Michelle Bathe and Michelle Buteau. It focuses on former best friends reuniting to help each other through life's rough patches, especially those related to marriage, from getting divorced to reckoning with infidelity. All episodes will arrive Sept. 19.
Will Packer, the hitmaker behind Girls Trip, Ride Along, and Think Like A Man, is executive-producing a new 10-episode series, Bigger. A half-hour comedy—starring Tanisha Long, Angell Conwell, Rasheda Crockett, Chase Anthony, and Tristen Winger—it follows a single black woman seeking something more from her circumstances after the random, sudden death of a college acquaintance forces her ambitious group of friends to examine how their lives have stagnated. Three episodes are to be made available at launch, with more rolling out weekly.
BET+ is taking an aggressive approach to populating its library with original content, premiering one new project almost every month in its first year. Perry is working on his first-ever original streaming series, also offering up his extensive film catalogue (including the Madea franchise) and stage plays to subscribers.
"We’re focused on super-serving lovers of Black stories by working with top talent, and supporting fresh new voices, on both sides of the camera," said Devin Griffin, the service's general manager, in BET+'s release.
TV staples like comedy series Martin and Comedy View will also make their streaming debuts via BET+, as will dozens of BET series, films, documentaries, and specials, with Being Mary Jane, Real Husbands of Hollywood, and The Quad among the most major. Viacom will pull from sister networks like VH1 to add Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta and Basketball Wives to the service. Stand-up specials by D.L. Hughley, Eddie Griffin, Nick Cannon, Sasheer Zamata (Saturday Night Live), Lil Rel Howery (Get Out), Gina Yashere (The Daily Show), and Sinbad are expected to follow within the first year of BET+.
Notably, though BET+ is getting out ahead of many streaming competitors, it's not expected to offer a dedicated web presence at launch. That site will follow later this year, with BET+ first rolling out on mobile and via connected TV devices.
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