Paramount explores sale of majority stake in BET – report

Paramount is considering selling its majority stake in BET Media Group, which includes the cable channels BET and VH1, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Actor and producer Tyler Perry, who also owns a minority stake in the BET+ streaming service, has expressed interest in buying the stake.

The company already has a long-standing relationship with Perry. Back in 2017, Perry and Paramount (then Viacom) inked a deal under which Perry would produce around 90 episodes annually for BET and other networks. The agreement also gave Paramount Pictures exclusive first-look rights for Perry’s feature films.

Another party interested in the stake is Byron Allen, founder and CEO of Allen Media Group. An AMG spokesperson told NextTV that Allen “is interested in buying BET, and he will be pursuing the acquisition of the network.”

Allen’s interest in BET comes several months after AMG acquired the Black News Channel for $11 million. At the time, Allen stated AMG “will deliver a best-in-class network to serve the underserved African-American community and the advertisers who want to reach this extremely valuable audience.”

It’s unclear how much Paramount would offer for its BET stake. But people familiar with the situation told WSJ the potential sale is part of Paramount’s effort to bolster its flagship Paramount+ streaming service as well as FAST service Pluto TV.

Paramount is employing a similar strategy with its Showtime unit. The company in January announced it will fully integrate Showtime content into Paramount+ later this year. Whereas the Showtime cable channel will be rebranded as “Paramount+ with Showtime.”

WSJ noted that it would be challenging to combine BET+ into Paramount+ in the same manner as Showtime, given Perry’s stake in the service. If Paramount decides to sell BET, it intends to maintain a commercial relationship with BET, sources told the outlet.

Some parties have expressed interest in buying Showtime from Paramount. WSJ last week reported Paramount turned down a $3 billion offer for the network from former company executive David Nevins.

But Paramount seems optimistic the Showtime-Paramount+ integration will help reduce content expenses in the coming years, as CFO Naveen Chopra pointed out at an investor conference last week.

Paramount in Q4 reached 77 million global direct-to-consumer subscribers, with nearly 56 million Paramount+ subscribers. The company doesn’t provide a breakdown of Showtime or BET subscribers.