BET has launched BET Studios, a first-of-its-kind venture that offers equity ownership for Black content creators. BET Studios, buoyed by the monetary backing of BET and ViacomCBS, will provide premium television and film content for internal buyers, including Paramount Plus, Showtime, CBS, Nickelodeon, BET Plus and BET. BET Studios debuted Wednesday with principal partners Kenya Barris (“Black-ish”), Rashida Jones (“Hot Girls Wanted”) and Aaron Rahsaan Thomas (“S.W.A.T.”).
“The demand for premium content from Black creators has accelerated dramatically as a result of both the rapidly changing media and social landscapes,” said BET president Scott Mills in a statement. “BET, with our 40-year legacy of celebrating Black culture, and the full power of the ViacomCBS ecosystem — is uniquely positioned to service this demand. As a company with its origin in Black entrepreneurship, we are incredibly excited to create the first major studio to provide Black creators with ownership, creative freedom and the unparalleled partnership and support of BET.”
“BET Studios is an exciting and novel extension of the storied BET brand, and we have a structure well-suited to our times to bring top talent into this production company with real ownership,” added David Nevins, chief content officer of scripted originals at Paramount Plus and chairman and CEO of Showtime Networks.
Aisha Summers Burke will helm BET Studios. She was recently appointed EVP and general manager of the new venture. In her role, she will be responsible for collaborating with the studio’s creative partners and internal constituencies and will oversee the day-to-day creative affairs for the company.
Before BET, Burke spent 13 years at Warner Bros. Television, serving as VP of scripted television for the cable and streaming division of Warner Horizon before it merged with Warner Bros. TV last year.
“BET has long been celebrated for excellence in producing quality programming that authentically depicts experiences lived within the Black community,” said Summers Burke. “With the launch of BET Studios, we are excited to introduce a new model that opens the aperture to a broad array of platforms and supports the full range of content from Black creators.’ This entrepreneurial environment offers creatives the opportunity to produce diverse high-end content reflecting all aspects of entertainment.”
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