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[04/17/08 - 03:00 PM]
BET Networks' Upfront '08 Presentation Is All About 'Connection You Can Feel!'
"American Gangster," "College Hill," "Sunday Best," "Baldwin Hills," "College Hill: Interns" and "Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is" are all set to return with new seasons.

[via press release from BET]

BET Networks' Upfront '08 Presentation is All About 'Connection You Can Feel!'

BET Unveils New Animated Series, Compelling News Programs, Hilarious Comedies, As Well as Returning Hit Franchises and Mega-Specials

BET J Strengthens Its Commitment to Lifestyle Programming with Three New Shows

BET Networks Also Announces "YOU(th) Vote!" - New Election Initiative Focused on Raising Voter Awareness and Participation Among Black Youth

NEW YORK, April 17 -- At its Upfront '08 presentation, BET Networks, the leading media and entertainment brand for African Americans and consumers of Black culture, touted its unique position as the most consistent and effective solution for advertisers to reach that coveted audience. Set in an election-themed show at New York City's Manhattan Center Studios with the campaign tagline "Connection You Can Feel!", the company reinforced its leadership role through new programming announcements, an overview of its digital strategy, and the unveiling of its new pro-social election initiative.

"As the No. 1 media destination for African Americans and consumers of Black culture, BET Networks offers our audience an engaging and relevant experience that truly resonates with them," said Debra L. Lee, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, BET Networks. "We continue to make strides in our original programming and digital offerings, and are further strengthening our commitment to providing quality content wherever our audience wants it." "BET Networks is committed to creating new extensions of our brand and identifying the most innovative and exciting opportunities for both our viewers and our advertising partners," said Scott Mills, President and Chief Operating Officer, BET Networks. "We've done so through our international expansion with our recent launch of BET in the United Kingdom, our new integrated marketing function and new digital efforts. As our footprint grows, we're looking forward to building an even deeper connection with our audience."

BET announced several new original series, including: THE BLACK PANTHER, an animated series about the first Black superhero and created in partnership with Marvel Comics; BRUTHA, a new docu-drama following the lives of five brothers in a singing group working with producer Jermaine Dupri; and 106 & GOSPEL, the inspirational version of the top music countdown series of all time, 106 & PARK. Returning series include AMERICAN GANGSTER, SUNDAY BEST, and the #1 original series in BET history, KEYSHIA COLE: THE WAY IT IS. BET Networks also announced its new YOU(th) VOTE! initiative, which is a multiplatform effort to encourage Black youth to discuss, debate and actively participate in the presidential election process.

In addition to its programming and pro-social news, BET Networks shared results from a research study of 5,000 African-American adults from Simmons Market Research Bureau. The study found that BET viewers are 21% more ad receptive when they watch ads on BET, and 31% more ad receptive when they see ads on BET.com, versus other networks and sites.

Louis Carr, BET Networks President of Media Sales, attributes the Simmons study's findings to the unique connection that BET has with its consumers. "BET Networks is the effective and reliable solution for advertisers to reach the coveted African American audience and consumers of Black culture," he said. "We are the only television network that provides the advertising community and Black America with a consistent dialogue across multiple formats and demographics every single day of the year."

BET remains the No. 1 television network in both broadcast and cable for its target demographic of African Americans ages 18-34. In 2007, BET boasted the No. 1 and No. 2 cable reality shows among Black households, thanks to KEYSHIA COLE: THE WAY IT IS and COLLEGE HILL. In addition, the second season of KEYSHIA COLE stands as BET's highest-rated original series in network history, with the series posting 44% gains in ratings since its first season.

"We've had fantastic original programming success stories during primetime, and the next step in our strategy is to create even more hits throughout the other parts of the day," said Reginald Hudlin, President of Entertainment, BET. "We'll continue to roll out more weekly and daily shows that our audiences crave."

BET Networks has also further expanded its offerings through its BET Digital Media Group. BET.com extends the on-air experience online, so viewers can continue to engage with the programs they love. With BET Mobile, the company offers mobile video capability that meets the needs of its tech-savvy users who want to send, receive and watch video on their cell phones. In addition, BET Video on Demand allows viewers to access their favorite BET programming whenever they want it. Also, the BET Vertical Ad Network allows advertising clients to reach beyond the BET brand to other targeted websites for urban and African American consumers. Since its launch in January, the ad network has reached 10 million unique users on more than 250 websites.

"Our audience is focused on the latest in communications, information and entertainment," said Denmark West, President of Digital Media, BET Networks. "We're meeting their needs through our increasing emphasis on news, our developments of extensions and communities based on our programming franchises, and our use of mobile applications to connect our audience to our programs and each other."

Included in today's upfront presentation were announcements regarding upcoming new series on BET and the network's returning hits:

Upcoming New Series on BET

-- THE BLACK PANTHER - From Marvel Comics(R), who brought the world Spider-Man, X-Men, the Fantastic Four and Iron Man, comes a primetime animated series featuring the first Black superhero. A wise and just African warrior king. A technologically advanced superhero with a proud past. BET presents THE BLACK PANTHER. PREMIERING Q1 2009

-- BRUTHA - With family values at the top of the network's agenda, BET turns the spotlight on BRUTHA, an R&B group of siblings who learn just what it takes to navigate the treacherous terrain of the music industry -- and discover who they really are along the way. Hunger for stardom, loyalty to family and love for the craft all take center stage with BRUTHA. PREMIERING Q4 2008

-- JUDGE KAREN - There's a refreshing new judge in town who's about to set it off: JUDGE KAREN! She's uncompromising, smart, and quick to cut through the clutter. JUDGE KAREN was born to hold court on BET, and she's taking no prisoners. PREMIERING Q4 2008

-- THE BOOT - Narrated by MC Lyte, THE BOOT is a half-hour dating show filled with twists, turns and eliminations. The daily strip show begins with six sexy singles (for example, two girls and four guys). First, the girls meet with all four guys individually. The ladies discuss their personalities and eliminate two guys. The two remaining men and two women are then paired off and sent on dates. Halfway through their date, they swap. The girls collectively decide which of the two guys to eliminate, and then they send one guy packing. With two girls and one guy remaining, suddenly the power shifts. Now the guy has the chance to decide which one of the girls is right for him. PREMIERING Q2 2008

-- ALL-NEW COMIC VIEW - It's the standout of standup, the show that broke the biggest names in comedy. The legendary series returns for a 10th consecutive term completely transformed for 2008. PREMIERING Q3 2008

-- 106 & GOSPEL - It's the flagship brand extension you've been clamoring for: 106 & GOSPEL, an all-new 90-minute weekly music event this growing genre so righteously deserves. In addition to the incredible performances for which the 106 brand is known, 106 & GOSPEL features a top 20 countdown of contemporary gospel videos, news segments with Tye Tribbett, church fashion and roof-raising youth choir battles. PREMIERING Q1 2009

Upcoming BET News Programming

-- THE TRUTH WITH JEFF JOHNSON - Jeff Johnson takes his award-winning reporting to the talk show format with a fresh approach to news and pop culture hosted by the acclaimed correspondent. He addresses the issues facing Black America, the nation and the world as they happen, gathering comments and provoking thought with interviews and lively discussion. PREMIERING 2009

-- UNREPORTED - The imbalance in journalistic coverage with respect to African Americans is handed a much-needed reality check with this new investigative series. UNREPORTED hits the bulls-eye by illuminating the plight of the missing and falsely accused in our communities and in so doing, brings our truth to light unlike any news program on television. PREMIERING 2009

Returning Hits on BET

-- AMERICAN GANGSTER - The New York Times hails this programming leader as a "public service of stellar significance." Critically acclaimed ratings smash AMERICAN GANGSTER serves up season three of true crimes by America's most notorious gangsters and the real consequences for their communities. PREMIERING Q4 2008

-- BALDWIN HILLS - Black America's princes and princesses return. They promise more conflict with their parents, themselves, and each other on this sleeper hit centered around the young, gifted and Black. PREMIERING Q3 2009

-- COLLEGE HILL - The #1 cable reality show among African Americans in 2008 is fired up with no end in sight. In 2008, the COLLEGE HILL franchise hits the ground running, with an action-packed COLLEGE HILL: ATLANTA setting the stage for season six. Get ready for a new city, new housemates, and new partnership opportunities. PREMIERING Q1 2009

-- INTERNS - The stakes are high for season two of INTERNS as a new crop of candidates battle it out in the boardroom for the ultimate prize. See who makes it in the corporate world -- and who goes home. PREMIERING Q4 2008

-- KEYSHIA COLE: THE WAY IT IS - Never one to hold back with her music or her life, platinum-selling R&B superstar Keyshia Cole reveals all about fame and family in season three of the #1 series in BET history: KEYSHIA COLE: THE WAY IT IS. PREMIERING 2009

-- SUNDAY BEST - SUNDAY BEST promises to sweep the nation with another big win. Grammy(R) and Dove Award-winning host Kirk Franklin joins Grammy(R) and Dove Award-winning judges BeBe Winans and Mary Mary for season two as BET searches for the next great gospel star. PREMIERING Q4 2008

Specials

-- BET AWARDS '09 - The BET AWARDS is the most-watched awards program for African American viewers in cable history, and #1 with African American viewers 18-34 for the third consecutive year. This year's show promises to set even bigger milestones. PREMIERING Q2 2009

-- CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL - CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL rings in each new year with awe-inspiring power and anointed, electrifying performances. Always a star-studded gathering of gospel and R&B greats, CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL holds the crown as the highest-rated gospel program anywhere on television for eight years running. PREMIERING Q1 2009

-- BET HIP HOP AWARDS - The BET HIP HOP AWARDS specifically pay tribute to a culture that changed the world. With style, substance, and swagger like no other, the BET HIP HOP AWARDS 2007 was the #1 hip-hop themed telecast on television for its second consecutive year. PREMIERING Q4 2008

-- THE BET HONORS - THE BET HONORS celebrates our best and brightest: entrepreneurs, corporate citizens, educators, public servants and entertainers are lauded with moving musical tributes. Hailed by The Washington Post as an event that "favored achievement with honor over gaudy success," THE BET HONORS is the bridge between generations. PREMIERING Q1 2009

-- RIP THE RUNWAY - RIP THE RUNWAY sets the best of Black fashion to music. Electric performances, bold designers and sexy models melt the winter chill. No wonder it's the #1 fashion themed telecast on television two years running! PREMIERING Q1 2009

-- SPRING BLING - SPRING BLING is the ultimate spring break celebration that has become a BET staple. The week is full of incredible performances, picture-perfect young men and women, and the hottest new shows under the sun. PREMIERING Q2 2009

New Programming on BET J

-- CARMELO'S WAY - Denver Nuggets superstar forward Carmelo Anthony gives BETJ four months of unprecedented access, with cameras following him across the country and around the world. See him evolve as he pursues his destiny as an NBA player, as a businessman, and most importantly, as a human being. This is a story of the choices a man must make to determine the ultimate path he will take. This is Carmelo's Way. PREMIERING Q4 2008

-- LEADING MEN - Meet the LEADING MEN who live their lives in public and allow viewers to take a rare look at their private side. Prominent African American men who have impacted American culture artistically, socially, and politically are candid and revealing. PREMIERING Q4 2008

-- URBAN CUISINE - Celebrated as one of The Great Chefs of America, Marcus Samuelsson not only shows viewers how to prepare a great dish; he elevates it to a lifestyle experience. Smart and healthy shopping, special dinners, and satisfying low-fat, low-calorie delectable meals are all on the menu. The kitchen heats up on URBAN CUISINE as Marcus and his celebrity guests partner to prepare their favorite foods. Add the secret ingredient: Marcus' special flair. PREMIERING Q4 2008

ABOUT BET NETWORKS

BET Networks, a division of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), is the nation's leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 87 million households according to Nielsen Media Research, and can be seen in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions: BET.com, a leading internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET Digital Networks - BET J, BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Event Productions, a full-scale event management and production company; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, an extension of BET network programming for global distribution.





  [april 2008]  
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· AMERICAN GANGSTER (BET)
· BALDWIN HILLS (BET)
· BLACK PANTHER (BET)
· BROTHERS TO BRUTHA (BET)
· COLLEGE HILL (BET)
· COLLEGE HILL: INTERNS (BET)
· JUDGE KAREN (SYNDICATION)
· KEYSHIA COLE: THE WAY IT IS (BET)
· SUNDAY BEST (BET)





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