'Better' not great for BET

Ratings tepid as 1.1 mil tune in

The controversy surrounding BET's new series "We Got to Do Better" -- formerly known as "Hot Ghetto Mess" -- didn't translate into huge ratings for the show's premiere Wednesday night.

"Better" averaged 1.1 million viewers in its debut at 10:30 p.m., according to Nielsen Media Research. That includes 556,000 viewers in the adults 18-49 demo and 487,000 in adults 25-54.

That's on par with other recent BET series premieres, including the July 10 debut of reality series "Baldwin Hills," which drew 1.1 million total viewers along with 590,000 in 18-49 and 470,000 in 25-54.

However, "Better" didn't match the series debuts of the reality show "Lil' Kim: Countdown to Lockdown" and the docu series "American Gangster," which broke records for the network. The March 2006 debut of "Lil' Kim" averaged 1.9 million total viewers, 1.2 million in 18-49 and 895,000 in 25-54, while "Gangster" on Nov. 28 drew 1.6 million total viewers, 870,000 in 18-49 and 670,000 in 25-54.

"Better," hosted by Charlie Murphy, is described as a "tongue-in-cheek examination of the good, the bad and the ugly of black popular culture." It made headlines this month after a few advertisers pulled out over mounting criticism that its content perpetuated racial stereotypes (HR 7/10). BET changed the show's title ahead of its premiere (HR 7/24).