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BET Eyes New Networks

July 18, 2007 by  
Filed under Entertainment, Money/Business

(Akiit.com) _ Beverly Hills–Black Entertainment Television is exploring the launch of several new linear and broadband channels for distribution as early as next year, BET president Debra Lee told Akiit News Sunday.

Lee, who spoke to Akiit News immediately after the network’s Television Critics Association tour session here, said the network will look to create several channels over the next year that would compliment the 85 million-subscriber BET channel and its sister 26 million subscriber BET J service, although she would not reveal specifics. Potential offerings could include a family, gospel, and women’s channel, according to executives close to the company.

She said the new services could take the form of either a linear cable channel, a video on demand service or a broadband video channel.

Lee feels the momentum the network is building through its lineup of original reality and scripted fare will help make it easier to launch the new services. At its TCA presentation, the network announced several new fall shows, including its first animated scripted comedy show BUFU, an American Idol-like Gospel competition series Sunday Best and a town hall news program Hip Hop Vs. America which will take a close look at the merits and faults of the hip hop community.

The network is also poised to launch a scripted series in 2008 dubbed Somebodies about a group of 20-something “slackers” caught between graduating from college and finding a real career. A second scripted series, Wifey ‘ a co production with VH1 ‘ is also in development and could debut later this year.

On the ratings front, BET’s 0.6 second quarter prime time household rating was flat compared to the same period in 2005.

“I want BET networks to be the frontier for great original content whether it’s for mature adult African-Americans, kids or women,” Lee said. “So if we can create more channels that work with that strategy, then [cable operators] should trust enough to know that we’re going to do that and do it well.”


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