UPDATED with Byron Allen Interest: Byron Allen said he wants to buy BET as Paramount Global looks at selling the asset. He is the second suitor after Tyler Perry, who is also said to have expressed interest.
“Byron Allen is interested in purchasing BET and will pursue the acquisition of the network,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
EARLIER: Tyler Perry is looking at BET Media as parent company Paramount Global explores selling a majority stake in the division.
Perry, who has a strong relationship with BET CEO Scott Mills as well as Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish, has expressed interest in Paramount owning the asset as his own producing deal with BET is coming to an end. He provides much of the scripted content on BET and BET+, and is a partner with Paramount on the streaming service, which launched in 2019.
It’s early days, and given BET’s iconic status in black culture and the black creative community, it could see interest from other black high-net-worth individuals or minority-owned institutions. A person familiar with the situation said Paramount would maintain a minority stake as well as commercial agreements with BET for content across its platforms in any deal.
Paramount has been clear about its desire to explore options to raise money, including an attempt to sell publisher Simon & Shuster.
Its move with BET Media was first reported in The Wall Street Journal. The company declined to comment.
The division includes BET linear networks, BET+, BET Studios, launched in 2021 with partners Kenya Barris, Rashida Jones and Aaron Rashon Thomas, and VH1, which was moved under the BET umbrella last year.
BET, or Black Entertainment Television, was founded by Robert Johnson in 1980, the first cable channel to cater to black audiences. It was acquired by Viacom in 2001 for $3 billion.
Paramount’s $2.2 billion deal to sell book publisher Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House fell through due to regulatory concerns, but it has made clear it is a non-core asset and remains on the block. In recent years, it has sold the CBS NYC headquarters known as Black Rock and the CNet website. It rejected the offer for Showtime and announced other plans for the asset, namely to merge it with Paramount+ in streaming and linear TV.
As the parent moves into streaming, it, like most major media companies, spends heavily on content and expects top losses in this business this year.
The company declined to comment. The couple’s general interest in selling a majority stake in BET was first reported in the Wall Street Journal.
The conversations surrounding BET come as M&A talk heats up in various pockets of media and entertainment. Lachlan Murdoch recently said that Fox Corp. will actively pursue it, WME is looking to sell itself, Hulu may be in play, and Cineworld is marketing its global theatrical assets as it seeks to emerge from bankruptcy, to name a few.