From the looks of it, neither Sean “Diddy” Combs, Tyler Perry nor Byron Allen will possess a controlling position in Paramount Global’s BET Media Group.
According to The Wall Street Journal, after analyzing its finances, Paramount, which owns VH1 and BET Studios, as well as its streaming service BET+ and BET-related networks, determined it wouldn’t be viable to sell the media company that works to entertain, engage and empower the Black community.
Turns out Paramount has a heavy debt load and, as Indie Wire reports, “a sale of the majority stake of BET Media Group would not have brought in enough cash to pay down enough company debt, known as deleveraging.”
For the quarter ending on June 30, 2023, investors research platform MacroTrends reported that Paramount Global had accrued a long-term debt of $15.62 billion.
Bottom line, Paramount will remain in control of Black Entertainment Television, Variety reported.
The BET Sale Hoopla
As Finurah previously reported, billionaire playwright and TV producer Perry was rumored to be close to acquiring BET from Paramount, a deal that would include the BET+ and VH1 channels and be worth about $3 billion, based on annual cash flow.
The Journal reported that private equity firm Ariel Alternatives, an asset-management company affiliated with Ariel Investments LLC, backed Perry.
Similarly, Diddy, the billionaire hip-hop entrepreneur who controls Revolt Media, desired to combine his more than 10-year broadcast media reach in Black homes.
Revolt reaches roughly 80 millions households, Variety reported.
Investment firm HarbourView Equity Partners had backed Diddy.
Fellow billionaire media entrepreneur and comic Byron Allen, owner of TheGrio, which operates a digital publishing media and TV news channels under his production company, Allen Media Group, which was acquired by 27 NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox affiliates, also sought media expansion.
HarbourView Equity Partners was also backing Allen.
The Journal also reported that initial bids for the share in BET included basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, who had teamed up with film and TV producer Kenya Barris and rapper 50 Cent and Group Black, a company aiming to advance and invest in Black-owned media properties.
Paramount, the parent company of CBS, Nickelodeon and the Paramount movie studio, is trying to strengthen its resources to concentrate on its main streaming service: Paramount+.
As a result, it is seeking to sell off non-essential assets, including its controlling interest in BET. Recently, the company announced that it has agreed to sell its publishing division, Simon & Schuster, to the private equity firm KKR for $1.62 billion.
The Building of BET
During the 1980s, Robert Johnson, a lobbyist in the cable industry, established BET, a TV network that showcased content specifically designed for Black audiences, such as music videos and sitcoms. The network received accolades for broadcasting informative programs and specials.
However, since Johnson sold BET to Paramount predecessor Viacom for $3 billion in 2001, the network has been frequently criticized for deviating from this type of programming and going in a different direction.
Aside from a change in content, thanks to the rise of the internet and cord-cutting, traditional TV has been declining, with BET’s subscriber base shrinking, and its financial results have been suffering, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In 2017, BET had to shut down its original headquarters in Washington, D.C., and integrate with its sister channels MTV and VH1 in the parent company’s New York City HQ, Deadline reported.