BYRON ALLEN AND TYLER PERRY IN A BATTLE TO BUY BET
Tyler Perry is seeking a majority stake in BET Media Group from its parent company Paramount Global. Variety reports that he has been in discussions about a possible sale.
In addition to BET, VH1, BET Studios, and BET+, the actor and entrepreneur own a minority stake in Paramount-owned media companies. As Paramount Global explores selling Scott Mills' operation, Perry appears to be one of the leading candidates to acquire a majority stake. Kenya Barris, Rashida Jones, and Aaron Rahsaan are minority shareholders in BET Studios, launched in 2021.
Perry already has a working relationship with BET CEO Mills and Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish. He also produces a number of projects for BET and BET+, including House of Payne, Sisters, The Oval, Ruthless, Zatima, and Assisted Living. As reported by Deadline, a person close to the situation said that Paramount would maintain a minority stake. This also keeps various commercial agreements in place if the deal moves ahead.
The news comes amid the major restructuring of Paramount, which is planning to focus its resources on its video streaming service, Paramount+, as well as its advertising-supported service, Pluto TV. Earlier this year, the company announced plans to rebrand Showtime’s streaming platform by folding it into Paramount+. The company also sought to sell its book publishing arm, Simon & Schuster, to Penguin Random House, but the deal fell through due to regulatory concerns. Paramount is still seeking to sell S&S in the future.
Media moguls Tyler Perry and Byron Allen are vying to purchase a majority stake in BET Media Group. This comes amid reports that owner Paramount Global is exploring a sale of the asset.
Variety has confirmed that Perry is in talks to acquire the network. At the same time, a spokesperson for Allen stated that the Allen Media Group founder is also “interested in buying BET, and he will be pursuing the acquisition of the network.”
Perry currently owns a minority stake in the operation run by CEO Scott Mills. This operation includes cablers BET and VH1 and produces a large portion of the programming available on BET and streamer BET+, which he helped launch in 2019. Also among BET’s divisions is the production company BET Studios, which counts Kenya Barris, Rashida Jones, and Aaron Rahsaan Thomas as minority stakeholders.
Perry and BET have a long history, as the network helped fund his first feature, 2005’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” In 2017, Perry entered into a long-term film deal with Paramount, with a TV deal that began in May 2020. The partnership has been a lucrative and successful endeavor for Perry, Paramount Global president and CEO Bob Bakish, and BET’s Mills.
In addition to selections from his film library, among Perry’s TV projects currently available on BET and BET+ are “House of Payne,” “Sisters,” “The Oval,” “Ruthless,” “Zatima,” and “Assisted Living.”
On Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for Allen was also in the mix. In 2022, Allen acquired the Black News Channel for $11 million, joining The Weather Channel and digital outlets such as Local Now, HBCU GO, and TheGrio. Allen Media Group has also invested over $1 billion in the last three years to acquire 27 ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox affiliates. Byon Allen, the chairman, founder, and CEO of Allen Media Group is leading the company's push into the media and entertainment industry.
According to The Wall Street Journal, which was the first to report Paramount Global is interested in selling off BET in an article published Monday, “The decision to consider selling a majority stake of the assets, which cater primarily to Black audiences, is part of the entertainment giant’s effort to shore up resources to bolster its flagship Paramount+ streaming service and its advertiser-supported free streaming platform Pluto TV, some of the people said.”
Earlier this year, Paramount announced it would be rebranding both Showtime’s linear and streaming platforms as Paramount+. With Showtime, the iconic brand has been folded into its priority streaming service Paramount+. The move has already led to significant leadership changes and layoffs across the company.
Representatives for Paramount Global and Perry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.