Paramount Global is exploring a sale of BET Media, with Tyler Perry and The Weather Channel owner Byron Allen among potential suitors.
The BET division is focused on Black culture and includes flagship network BET, streamer BET+, VH1 – which moved into the division last year – and BET Studios.
The latter was launched by Paramount in 2021 following a deal with actor Rashida Jones, writer Aaron Rahsaan Thomas and Black-ish creator Kenya Barris. BET’s output ranges from Sistas and All The Queen’s Men, to First Wives Club and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.
Perry has a producing deal with BET and is also close to its CEO Scott Mills, while also holding a minority stake in the BETA+ streaming service, which was launched in 2019.
Allen, meanwhile, is CEO of Allen Media Group. His spokesperson said the company “will be pursuing the acquisition” of the network.
BET, which had been known as Black Entertainment Television, was founded in 1980 by Robert Johnson and was acquired by Viacom in 2001 for $3bn.
The potential sale, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes as Paramount looks to raise cash, after Penguin Random House’s deal to buy the US studio’s publishing firm Simon & Schuster fell through on regulatory issues.
Paramount is continuing to look for a buyer for Simon & Schuster, but is now also expanding its scope with a potential BET sale, although it reportedly wishes to retain a minority stake.