Tyler Perry Wants To Buy BET From Paramount

By on March 7, 2023 in ArticlesCelebrity News

The Tyler Perry media empire may soon expand to include the cable channels BET and VH1, if Perry himself gets his wish. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Perry has "expressed interest" in purchasing a majority stake in the BET Media Group. The sale would include both the namesake cable channel, VH1 and production company BET Studios. The seller in the potential deal is current parent company Paramount Global.

Tyler Perry has a long relationship with both BET and Paramount, having an overall production deal through his company Tyler Perry Studios to create films and television shows for the network.

Paramount is seeking a sale of BET Media Group in order to devote more resources to its online streaming platforms Paramount+ and Pluto TV. And Variety reports that Perry currently has several projects broadcast on BET and streaming on BET+, including "House of Payne," "Sisters," "The Oval," "Ruthless," "Zatima," and "Assisted Living." Perry already holds a minority stake in BET+, the channel's own online streaming counterpart.

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That minority stake makes it trickier for Paramount to fold BET and VH1 into its streaming platform the way it recently announced it was doing with Showtime and Paramount+, another reason the sale could make sense for both parties. According to a source said to be close to the negotiations, the business partnership between Paramount and BET would continue even after the latter's potential change of ownership.

According to one report, Paramount turned down an offer of $3 billion to sell Showtime outright, but instead opted to incorporate it into its streaming portfolio. It's all part of the company's overall strategy to get rid of assets that it can't fold into streaming, while bringing in some extra revenue at a time when it's spending a lot on new streaming content at the same time.

BET was founded by Robert L. Johnson back in 1980. The network was acquired by Viacom (now known as Paramount Global) in 2000, for $2.3 billion worth of stock, as well as $570 million in assumed corporate debt. The sale temporarily made Johnson a billionaire. He lost his billionaire status for two reasons:

1) On the day the deal was announced in October 2000, Viacom stock was trading at around $40 a share. Within a year as the economy collapsed after 9/11, Viacom's share price dropped nearly in half. By 2009, Viacom stock was trading below $8 a share.

2) In 2002, Robert and his wife of 33 years, Sheila Johnson, filed for divorce. Robert ultimately agreed to pay Sheila $400 million worth of cash and stock.

How much a deal to buy the brand from Paramount might cost Tyler Perry is unknown, but with a nearly billion-dollar net worth and tons of wealthy backers, he can probably afford a hefty asking price. Neither he nor Paramount has commented publicly on the matter yet.

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