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BET is joining the streaming wars.
The Viacom-owned cable network will be launching a streaming service of its own in the fall, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. Plans for the platform — which will feature Tracy Oliver’s bounced around First Wives Club series and Will Packer-produced comedy Peachtree Place as well as content from Tyler Perry — have been in the works for more than six months. BET declined comment as formal deals for the service have not yet been completed.
Sources say Viacom is near a deal to bring in an executive to oversee BET+. A price point for the African American-focused service has not yet been determined. Similar to Disney+ and other forthcoming subscription services like WarnerMedia, BET+ will include content from across Viacom’s cable brands including MTV, Comedy Central and VH1.
BET+ is the latest digital effort to come under Viacom CEO Bob Bakish. As linear ratings for the media behemoth’s cable portfolio continue to dwindle, Viacom earlier this year paid $340 million for streaming video upstart Pluto TV. The ad-supported platform already has 16 million monthly users who have access to old episodes of Viacom-owned library content including The Hills and All That.
BET+ becomes the latest streaming platform to bow from a major media titian. Disney will launch its SVOD service later this year. WarnerMedia will bow its streaming platform in beta in the fourth quarter and Comcast has its upstart platform due in 2020. Apple also will join the fray as conglomerates look to compete with billion-dollar content spenders Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, the latter of which is now entirely controlled by Disney.
As for First Wives Club, the series was originally developed for TV Land and moved to BET after being redeveloped with a new writer — Girls Trip‘s Oliver. That series — a reboot of the iconic 1996 feature that starred Bette Midler, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn, has been in the can for months and will launch, sources say, exclusively on BET+. Packer’s Peachtree Place — picked up as one of the first originals from new BET president Scott Mills in April 2018 — is a 10-episode comedy that follows five 30-somethings living in Atlanta as they try to build their personal and professional lives. It was originally slated to air on the linear network. Sources say the comedy will be redeveloped with an edgier take and new title.
In addition to originals from Viacom’s cable brands, the service will feature new content from Perry that stems from a multiple-year partnership the prolific producer inked with Viacom back in July 2017. Perry’s deal with Viacom did not officially start until May of this year, after his pact with OWN expired.
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