Viacom International Launches Direct-to-Consumer SVOD App BET Play

Viacom International Media Networks CEO Bob Bakish

With a monthly cost of $3.99, it will be Viacom's first such app for an adult audience and the first direct-to-consumer app from its international networks unit.

Viacom's Viacom International Media Networks unit on Wednesday launched BET Play, the entertainment company's first-ever direct-to-consumer, subscription video-on-demand app for an adult audience.

It previously launched a direct-to-consumer app for kids brand Noggin.

It said the app will give "fans in 100 countries direct mobile access to BET’s signature award shows, current and classic television series, documentaries, standup comedy, entertainment news and legendary musical performances." The app is available in a range of countries, but not the U.S., France and Africa.

BET Play, which costs $3.99 per month (with local iTunes and Google Play stores showing pricing for accurate currency conversion), allows users to watch English-language BET content on their iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, as well as AirPlay-enabled TV sets without the need for a pay TV subscription.

The launch of the BET Play streaming app is timed to coincide with this year’s 2016 BET Awards.

“For people around the world who love black culture, BET Play will enable fans to access our content when and where they want it,” said Debra Lee, chairman and CEO of BET Networks.

“The launch of BET Play significantly expands the brand's geographic availability by making it available direct to consumer in many markets where it has not previously had an established presence on TV,” said Michael Armstrong, executive vp and general manager, international brand development at Viacom International Media Networks.

The app offers hundreds of current episodes from 16 global franchises, including Being Mary Jane, starring Gabrielle Union; Real Husbands of Hollywood, starring Kevin Hart; Chasing Destiny, starring Kelly Rowland; Zoe Ever After, starring Brandy Norwood; and classic interviews from 106 & PARK, in addition to digital-first shortform original series, such as #BLX, musical performances and more.

BET Play will also offer live streams of BET’s tentpole events and awards shows, including the BET Awards on June 26, BET Hip Hop Awards and the Soul Train Awards. The app also features a live linear feed of BET Soul.

BET Play is the latest addition to the Viacom Play Plex suite of mobile TV apps, which VIMN launched for international markets late last year to offer video-on-demand access to a range of current and library content, as well as a live local linear streams.

To date, Play Plex apps are available in more than 40 markets, have been downloaded more than 8 million times and streamed 150 million times, according to VIMN.

"We've seen incredible interest in, and uptake of, our Play Plexsuite of apps, which have completely exceeded our expectations,” said Bob Bakish, president and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks. "These products give our audiences the content they want, how they want it and offer VIMN the flexibility to adapt to a particular market, partner or brand's needs.”

Fans signing up for the service right now can experience BET Play with a seven-day trial free of charge.