11:05am PT by Lesley Goldberg
BET Bolsters Streaming Service With Tyler Perry Comedies
BET's forthcoming streaming service, BET+, is beginning to come into focus.
In addition to the previously announced First Wives Club reboot from Girls Trip screenwriter Tracey Oliver, the platform will also feature more than 1,000 hours of premium content, including library titles from Tyler Perry and a new drama series from Oliver.
The platform, set to launch in the fall, will feature Perry's former TBS comedies — House of Payne (250-plus episodes) and Meet the Browns (140 episodes) — as well as a roster of feature films from the Madea franchise and select stage plays from the prolific multihyphenate. Additional titles will be added as complicated rights deals are untangled. Perry's new BET original series The Oval — the first of four new projects (two comedies and two dramas) — will also be among the library content on the platform. The Oval will debut on the linear network before moving to BET+.
Perry's vast library of content he created for OWN, the Discovery-owned cable network, will not be included among the library titles for BET+.
Perry will be responsible for 75 hours of original content — including a live holiday production — between October and September 2020.
BET+ will launch with First Wives Club, the 10-episode scripted drama that was developed for TV Land, moved to Paramount Network and then landed at BET and moved to the streaming service. Jill Scott, Ryan Michelle Bathe and Michelle Buteau star in the drama that will join Bigger (formerly Peachtree Place) from Will Packer exclusively on the platform. Details on Oliver's new straight-to-series 10-episode drama have not yet been revealed.
Viacom will also bolster BET+ with original series from its portfolio of cable networks with content from BET, including Real Husbands of Hollywood, The New Edition Story, The Quad, College Hill, Comic View, Hell Date and more titles that have never been available on streaming platforms. Shows from MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central (including stand-up specials) will also be featured on BET+.
The library titles are key to the launch of any streaming service. To comprehend the importance of providing a vast range of content to supplement originals, look no further than the $100 million Netflix paid to Warner Bros. to continue to be the exclusive streaming platform for Friends in 2019 and the subscriber outrage that came before that deal was announced. Many library deals for TV's biggest hits — including The Office, Friends and Grey's Anatomy, for example — are under an increased level of scrutiny. The owners of those three shows (Comcast, Warner Bros. and Disney, respectively) are all launching streaming services of their own and, like BET, will need a roster of library titles to bolster original programming in a bid to compete with Netflix for subscribers. Should Warners, for example, move Friends to its streaming platform (set to launch in beta in the fourth quarter before its 2020 debut), the company would be turning its back on another nine-figure deal. And the same is true for other conglomerates as Comcast's deal for The Office is up in 2020 and Grey's Anatomy in the coming years.