Tyler Perry, the acclaimed African-American filmmaker and billionaire businessman, is among a group of influential figures vying to acquire the esteemed BET Media Group, a U.S. basic cable channel that caters to African-American viewers.
Reports suggest that Curtis Jackson “50 Cent” and basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal are also part of the consortium considering a bid for the media giant, as Paramount Global, the current owner, contemplates selling a majority stake.
Notably, music mogul, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and Byron Allen, founder and CEO of Allen Media Group, are also reported to be mulling over the opportunity to make an offer for the media enterprise.
Facts and figures
BET, launched in 1980 by Robert L. Johnson, revolutionized the television landscape and emerged as one of the most successful Black-owned enterprises in history, propelling Johnson to billionaire status.
In 2001, Viacom (now Paramount Global) acquired BET in a groundbreaking $3-billion deal.
Today, BET Media Group encompasses prominent networks such as BET and VH1, with its worth estimated at around $3 billion based on annual cash flow.
While BET’s cable business has faced challenges amidst the rise of streaming services, its streaming platform, BET+, has shown promising growth, amassing more than 3 million subscribers.
Insider sources anticipate bids to be submitted in the coming days. However, Paramount Global’s spokesperson declined to comment on any potential sale, maintaining confidentiality — as expected — throughout the process.
Tyler Perry expands influence in BET acquisition bid
Perry’s vested interest in BET can be attributed to his ownership stake in BET+, the network’s streaming channel, resulting from a 2019 production deal with Paramount.
Perry has expressed his intentions to expand his involvement in the business, with discussions held between him and Paramount Chairman Shari Redstone.
Perry’s office, however, has refrained from confirming reports suggesting collaboration with Ariel Investments, the Chicago-based investment firm associated with former U.S. President Barack Obama and media mogul Oprah Winfrey.
Other prominent figures interested in the BET acquisition include Group Black, a Miami-based media investment firm, which has partnered with accomplished TV producer Kenya Barris, known for his hit ABC show, “Blackish.”
This consortium also includes rap star 50 Cent, co-creator of the popular urban gangster drama “Power” on Starz, and Shaquille O’Neal, who has ventured into businesses such as Authentic Brands Group.
Paramount Global navigates changing TV landscape with workforce reduction, MTV News discontinuation
Paramount Global has faced significant challenges in the wake of traditional TV’s decline.
Earlier this month, the company announced a 25-percent reduction in its U.S. cable workforce and the discontinuation of iconic cable brand MTV News, similar to BET, as the company adapts to changing market conditions.
While challenges persist for BET, industry experts recognize its enduring value and influence within the digital realm.
Roland Martin, the owner of the Black Star Network streaming channel, emphasized the potential of a new owner reconnecting with Black consumers, offering content and experiences that embody the essence of a Black-owned enterprise.