The world of US black entertainment was all abuzz last week on the news that ‘Madea‘ creator, Tyler Perry had purchased BET.
A week on, that has yet to be substantiated.
Some media houses believe Perry has an interest but the deal has yet to be consummated with other suitors still submitting proposals.
According to Bloomberg, Perry already has a 25 per cent stake and may be looking to increase his holding in the television company that is a household name with Black Americans.
Perry faces competition from other prominent Black American entertainers including 50 Cent, P Diddy and basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal.
It is instructive that Perry, reputed to have a net worth of US$1 billion, has not made any formal declaration that he has acquired a majority position in BET.
The story goes that he acquired both BET and VH1 for around US$400 million.
BET Media Group is owned by Paramount Media Group. It was launched in the MTV-era by Robert Johnson in 1980 and became a huge hit with black TV audiences.
In 2001 Johnson sold BET to Viacom, then headed by Summer Redstone for around $3 billion.
Speaking about owning BET, Perry is reported to have said: “When this came up, I thought wow, this is meant to be.
“What I can tell you is it’s worth a lot more with me than it is without me. I’m pretty sure I’m going to give it a hell of an effort.”
BET’s viewership has fallen precipitously, a victim of the streaming giants, as cable TV’s popularity wanes.
According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, a decade ago, BET had 92 million subscribers, today that is down to 60 million with a net operating revenue of $432 million and cashflow of $185 million. The BET Media Group is said to have reported around $1.5 billion in revenue for 2022.
Tyler Perry already owns and heads Tyler Perry Studios located in Atlanta. He has the number one show on BET with ‘All the Queen’s Men‘.
He would like to see BET become black-owned again.
Talking about the likelihood of him pulling off this significant acquisition, Perry said: “ Rumour? No, it’s not a rumour. I’ve been there (BET) for four years now and had tremendous success. I wasn’t expecting this to happen, so yes – if that is possible, I’m very interested in taking as much of it.
“If it’s possible, I’m gonna take as much of it as I can. I think there was a sadness when Bob (Johnson) sold it, and I think there’ll be happiness when it’s Black-owned again.”