BET Announces New Series From Kevin Hart, Chris Rock and Steve Harvey

by Marc Berman  |  04.27.2017

Citing 16 consecutive years of dominance among African-American viewers aged 18-49, the emphasis at BET Networks’ upfront presentation in New York City was on the rise of its original programming across platforms.

Every outlet presenting in this upfront season has stressed the value of consumption outside of the traditional linear-viewing experience. Focusing on the growing importance of social media and using its first scripted miniseries, The New Edition Story, as an example, BET is joining forces with Twitter for an industry analysis of what it refers to as “Black Twitter.”

In June, BET and Twitter will release their findings about the black experience on Twitter to further position the network as a primary destination for the African-American audience across all benchmarks. The analysis will include a set of top Twitter hashtags, consisting of more than 10 million tweets and more than 20 million retweets since 2014.

BET, of course, also was once instrumental in defining to advertisers the value of African-American demographic breakdowns from Nielsen, where a targeted buy is the best buy. Today’s it’s logical to turn some focus to social in a medium where the traditional Nielsen ratings are no longer the sole determining factors.

“Over the last 37 years, BET has cultivated a deep and lasting relationship with our viewers, as we remain the premiere destination for lovers of African-American culture. This year, we are saying yes to all things black, with more premium original programming and best-in-class tentpoles that reflect and invigorate our viewers,” said Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO, BET Networks in a prepared statement.

“BET’s global influence is stronger than ever and we are continuing to expand beyond the television screen to impact our audience – and the world – across multiple platforms. Some networks offer reach and some engagement, but no other network offers reach, engagement, culture, lifestyle and influence.”

Centric to be Rebranded to BET Her

In branding news, sister cable network Centric, targeted to African-American women aged 25-54 demographic, will be rechristened as BET Her to align more closely with the flagship brand. The change goes into effect in Oct. 1, 2017, with BET Her joining BET, BET Jams and BET Soul with content tailored to specific segments of the black community.

New Programming at BET

Emphasizing comedy—including prominent names such as Kevin Hart, Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and the busiest man in show business, Steve Harvey—BET will introduce six new series. The breakdown is dramedy Divorce Saved My Life from Hart, featuring a couple who must work together so they can afford to be apart; late-night news satire The Rundown with Robin Thede from Rock; BET’s Mancave, hosted by journalist Jeff Johnson and executive produced by Harvey, featuring five men described as brave enough to be honest and vulnerable; and game show Face Value, from Sykes and hosted by Deon Cole.

BET also will introduce its first variety showcase courtesy of 50 Central, hosted and executive produced by “50 Cent,” that will include sketch comedy, hidden-camera pranks and musical performances. And Love Room, from the producers of the Love & Hip Hop franchise, is positioned as a “daring social experiment” that brings together individuals who have almost given up on falling in love and finding a relationship.

In the original miniseries department are The Bobby Brown Story (which follows the announcement of the upcoming biopic of his daughter Bobbi Christina on competing cable network TV One); and six-part documentary Death Row Chronicles.

Coming specials are the Bet Awards, BET Experience, BET Hip Hop Awards, Black Girls Rock!, Lip Sync Battle, Soul Train Awards and Soul Train Weekend.

Returning dramas include The Quad, The Breaks, and docuseries Hit the Floor, which features the Los Angeles Devils’ professional dance squad.

Tags:   BET upfronts 2017
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