According to rumors, BET Media Group owner Paramount Global is considering selling the asset, media moguls Tyler Perry and Byron Allen are competing to buy the majority of the company.
A representative for Allen said that the founder of the Allen Media Group is also “interested in buying BET, and he will be pursuing the acquisition of the network.” Variety has reported that Perry is in negotiations to purchase the network.
The company led by CEO Scott Mills, which includes cablers BET and VH1, is currently minority owned by Perry, who also produces a sizable percentage of the content for both BET and the streaming service BET+, which he helped establish in 2019. BET Studios, a production firm, is another one of the network’s divisions. Minority shareholders in BET Studios include Kenya Barris, Rashida Jones, and Aaron Rahsaan Thomas.
BET has a lengthy history with Perry because the network helped finance his debut feature film, “Diary of a Crazy Black Woman,” in 2005. Perry worked on a long-term film deal with Paramount in 2017, and a TV deal with the studio started in May 2020. The collaboration has been financially rewarding and fruitful for Perry, Bob Bakish, president and CEO of Paramount Worldwide, and Mills of BET.
Among Perry’s TV productions that are now airing on BET and BET+ in addition to selections from his film catalog are “House of Payne,” “Sisters,” “The Oval,” “Ruthless,” “Zatima,” and “Assisted Living.”
A representative for Allen is also involved on Monday in the discussion. For $11 million in 2022, Allen purchased the Black News Channel, which now joins The Weather Channel and online publications like Local Now, HBCU GO, and TheGrio. In the past three years, Allen Media Group has also spent more than $1 billion to purchase 27 ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox stations.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Paramount Worldwide is interested in selling out BET, becoming the first publication to do so, “The decision to consider selling a majority stake of the assets, which cater primarily to Black audiences, is part of the entertainment giant’s effort to shore up resources to bolster its flagship Paramount+ streaming service and its advertiser-supported free streaming platform Pluto TV, some of the people said.”
Earlier this year, Paramount stated that it would merge the venerable brand into its top-tier streamer Paramount+ by renaming both Showtime’s linear and streaming services Paramount+ With Showtime. Significant leadership transitions and layoffs across the organization have already resulted from the shift.
Requests for comment from Paramount Global and Perry representatives were not immediately answered.