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[12/28/06 - 02:42 PM]
BET Networks Wraps Up a Record-Setting 2006
BET maintains its rank as the #1 cable network total day and in weeknight primetime among black households as well as its target demo, blacks 18-34.

[via press release from BET]

BET Networks Wraps Up a Record-Setting 2006

The Number One Media Company Targeting African Americans and Consumers of Black Culture Experienced Phenomenal Programming Success and Business Growth

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 -- It was a history making year for BET Networks in 2006! From new original programming that drove record ratings, to the emergence of BET J, the re-launch of BET International and further expansion into broadband and mobile content -- BET Networks left an indelible mark on 2006. BET maintains its rank as the #1 cable network Total Day and in Weeknight Primetime among Black Households as well as its target demo, Blacks 18-34.

In her first full year as Chairman and CEO of BET Networks, Debra Lee led the company to the best year in its 26 year history. "It has definitely been an exciting year," said Debra Lee, BET Chairman and CEO. "A strong business plan with high goals and a team of creative executives who can help execute the plan are all key factors in a successful year. In addition, the programming direction mapped out by Reginald Hudlin has not let us down; hit program after hit program has proven that BET is in a new era and the sky is the limit," said Lee.

An aggressive programming strategy led by BET President of Entertainment, Reginald Hudlin, produced more top BET original series than any other year in BET history. Topping the list of an impressive string of hit series is AMERICAN GANGSTER which takes the title of cable's #1 Weekday original series among Black Households and Blacks 18-34 for 2006. The docu-drama debuted to a 1.6 rating (1.3 million households and 1.6 million total viewers), according to Nielsen Media Research and the numbers have consistently held strong week to week. Rounding out the list of the top five original series in BET history, all airing in 2006, were: LIL KIM: COUNTDOWN TO LOCKDOWN; KEYSHIA COLE THE WAY IT IS; COLLEGE HILL SEASON 3 and DMX SOUL OF A MAN.

Increasing the momentum from BET's hit original programming was an awesome lineup of mega-specials. CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL '06, which debuted in February, became television's #1 inspirational/religious program in 2006 according to Neilson Media Research. In the summer, the BET AWARDS 06 took the title of #1 program in cable television history among black households with a 4.9 rating which translates to 6.6 million viewers (4.1 million households). Ending the year with a bang was the first-ever BET HIP HOP AWARDS which was the #1 hip-hop telecast on television in 2006. Additionally, the BET AWARDS 06 and the BET HIP HOP AWARDS are the top two cable television award shows in 2006 among Black Households and Blacks 18-34.

Moreover, viewer favorites 106 & PARK, maintained its position as television's #1 music variety show and BOBBY JONES GOSPEL, VIDEO GOSPEL and LIFT EVERY VOICE held onto their spots as the top 3 inspirational/religious series on television.

Attributing to the growth of the BET Networks in 2006 were strategic business moves that allowed the company to focus in on target audiences and provide the edgy and compelling programming they desired. The first strategic move was the evolution of BET Jazz network to "BET J." BET J offers a contemporary and diverse lineup of programming for a more mature BET audience. Viewers can catch classic favorites such as VIDEO SOUL GOLD along with much- talked-about new original programs like COMMITTED: THE CHRISTIES and MY MODEL LOOKS BETTER THAN YOUR MODEL. "As BET viewers mature, so do their tastes and we want to continue to offer them the BET programming they love on a more contemporary level," said BET Chairman and CEO, Debra Lee.

Another bold business strategy that bolstered the network in 2006 was taking full control of BET's interactive arm, BET.com, with the cash buyout of its original investment group. This led to more compelling content that resulted in 56.9 million page views in November '06, an increase of +424% vs. November '05 according to Nielsen/NetRating and a whopping 3.7 million registered users.

Other 2006 successes for BET Networks included:

* The launch of BET International with new activity and the introduction of BET programming on three new continents: Africa, Europe and Asia; and on three separate platforms: broadband, digital radio and television.

* The creation of BET Animation and Business Affairs departments to expand original programming and strengthen BET's relationship with the Hollywood entertainment community.

* The launch of BET Interactive's BET on Blast, the first Broadband player targeted towards African Americans that offered a mix of web-only original programs and live streaming special events.

* The convergence of BET.com and BET News to create a 24/7 newsroom that provides users with a constant stream of breaking news articles, exclusive content and alternate points of view with streaming video, news blogs and interactive polls.

* BET Mobile's debut on iTunes featuring highly-rated original programs: AMERICAN GANGSTER; LIL' KIM: COUNTDOWN TO LOCKDOWN; DMX: SOUL OF A MAN; BEEF: THE SERIES; BET COMIC VIEW; and THE CHRISTIES: COMMITTED. Within the first week, the BET docu-drama AMERICAN GANGSTER became one of the ten most-downloaded cable TV shows on iTunes, and garnered a four out of five star rating from iTunes users.

* Continued recognition for BET's Rap-It-Up initiative, the largest effort targeting HIV/AIDS among African Americans in the country, with multiple Cable Positive POP Awards.

* Increased growth for the BET Foundation with the introduction of 'We Can For Wellness,' the Foundation's second youth-focused initiative.

About BET Networks

BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. (NYSE: VIA and 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 83 million households according to Nielsen media research, and can be seen in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of businesses extensions: BET.com, the Number 1 Internet portal for African Americans; 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, a service venture into the lucrative world of ring tones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, an extension of BET network programming for global distribution.

SOURCE BET Networks
http://www.bet.com





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