Tyler Perry is considered one of Black Leisure Tv’s most prolific creators  — and only one title in a constellation of stars circling the storied however struggling cable channel.

Rapper Curtis Jackson, higher generally known as 50 Cent, and basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal are stated to be a part of a gaggle that’s weighing a bid for BET Media Group, during which present proprietor Paramount International has been contemplating promoting a majority stake. Music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs has additionally been reported to be contemplating making a suggestion.

The enterprise, which incorporates the BET and VH1 networks, could possibly be price about $3 billion, based mostly on annual money move. Bids are anticipated within the coming days, in keeping with folks near the method. A Paramount International spokesperson declined to touch upon any potential sale.

“When this got here up, I assumed ‘wow, that is meant to be,’” Perry stated in an interview. The star, who portrays the grandmotherly Madea character on stage and in movies, produced eight scripted sequence and about 100 authentic episodes for BET properties final yr. 

“What I can let you know is it’s price much more with me than it’s with out me,” he stated. 

BET debuted on the daybreak of an period that redefined tv. Launched by entrepreneur Robert L. Johnson in 1980, it grew to become some of the profitable Black-owned companies in historical past, and made Johnson a billionaire. In 2001, he bought BET to Paramount predecessor Viacom for $3 billion.

Now, with TV going by one other technologically pushed metamorphosis, BET’s enterprise has waned as extra viewers decamp to streaming providers, including to the drag on its mother or father. Within the quarter ended March 31, Paramount International posted an working lack of $1.2 billion. 

Because of a 2019 manufacturing take care of Paramount, Perry owns 25% of BET+, the community’s streaming channel. He stated he mentioned increasing his involvement within the enterprise with Paramount Chairman Shari Redstone. 

“I’m fairly positive I’m going to provide it a hell of an effort,” Perry stated, discussing his plans to bid. 

Perry’s workplace declined to verify studies that he’s working with Ariel Investments, the Chicago-based funding agency with shut ties to former President Barack Obama and Perry’s longtime pal, Oprah Winfrey. 

An Ariel spokesperson didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Cable’s Erosion

Paramount International has been hard-hit by the persevering with atrophy of conventional TV. This month, the corporate stated it was letting go of 25% of the employees in its US cable enterprise and shutting down MTV Information, which like BET is an iconic however declining fixture of cable’s glory days.

Miami-based media funding agency Group Black, one other BET suitor, has assembled a group of companions that features Kenya Barris, one other achieved TV producer. Barris, whose credit embody hit ABC present Blackish, has a stake in a BET manufacturing enterprise. 

Additionally among the many Group Black companions are rap star Jackson, who helped create the city gangster drama “Energy” for Starz Inc., and Nationwide Basketball Affiliation Corridor-of-Famer and TV commentator O’Neal, whose increasing enterprise pursuits embody a stake in Genuine Manufacturers Group, which owns and licenses formidable but typically fading retail manufacturers reminiscent of Without end 21, Eddie Bauer and Barneys New York. 

A Group Black spokesperson declined to touch upon a possible BET bid, calling it “rumors and hypothesis.” The spokesperson stated Group Black “was fashioned to dramatically rework the face of media possession and funding.” 

Combs, whose property embody the music-centric cable and digital community Revolt Media, can be contemplating submitting a bid for BET, in keeping with media studies. A mix may give 10-year-old Revolt broader attain in Black households. 

Black Possession

Byron Allen, the onetime slapstick comedian who owns tv, manufacturing and movie properties together with The Climate Channel, confirmed that he too has his eyes on BET. 

“There’s a course of and we’re concerned,” Allen stated on Bloomberg Tv on Tuesday. He emphasised what he has stated previously — that he thinks BET ought to be managed by Black homeowners. 

“I’m rooting for Tyler, I’m rooting for P. Diddy, and anyone else who could also be within the course of, 50 Cent, Shaquille O’Neal,” Allen stated. “I’m rooting for Black possession relating to BET and VH1. That’s nothing however a win-win whoever will get it.” 

Allen stated that potential bids are forthcoming. “Everyone’s shifting rapidly. I believe they’ll have a brand new proprietor fairly quickly,” he stated. 

BET’s monetary outcomes have suffered within the face of cable’s decline. In Could 2020, BET had 74.7 million subscribers. By the start of Could this yr, that quantity had dropped to 69.7 million, in keeping with Nielsen Cable Universe. 

On the similar time, BET had web working income of $463 million and money move of $192 million in 2020, in keeping with S&P International Market Intelligence. By 2022, working income was all the way down to $432 million and money move had dropped to $188 million. 

Scott Robson, a senior analysis analyst at S&P, stated that BET’s subscribers peaked in 2012 at 91.6 million. He estimates that the community has since misplaced over 28 million subscribers, a price of attrition corresponding to different Paramount International cable shops reminiscent of MTV and VH1.

Cultural Beacon

Regardless of the challenges, BET stands as a beacon for these in search of to personal it, a formidable model with the flexibility to achieve an vital demographic throughout digital platforms. 

“The fact is BET remains to be a golden model. It is a probability for a brand new proprietor to reconnect with Black shoppers with content material and experiences that say, ‘Hey, you’ll be able to come again dwelling. We’re Black-owned,’” stated Roland Martin, who owns the Black Star Community streaming channel and repeatedly discusses the subject of Black-owned media on his Unfiltered program. 

Perry thinks his contributions to BET put him in a perfect place to hold it into the longer term. He stated he has written a whole lot of episodes for the channel and delivered them “at a quantity that’s so cost-effective that it offers an awesome return. All of that’s increasingly more purpose for it to be mine.”

4 of the highest 5 scripted exhibits on cable for Black shoppers age 18 to 49 in keeping with Nielsen knowledge are produced by Perry, together with Sistas and Assisted Dwelling

Perry stated below the phrases of his present Paramount deal, he might be free later this yr to discover offers with different media shops. In a current interview, BET Chief Govt Officer Scott Mills known as Perry “an absolute singularity” in movie and tv. 

“There isn’t a one within the enterprise who’s like him,” stated Mills.