BET (Black Entertainment Television) has been providing African American-centric programming to audiences for more than 35 years. The channel’s programming was meant to be in a magazine-like format, presenting both news and entertainment shows. Today, it is one of the top entertainment channels in the United States. Here are six facts about the network, its programming and its history.
Number Six: BET Is The First Black-Owned Network
When Robert L. Johnson started BET in 1980, he became the first black owner of a television network. Black Entertainment Television also became the first black-owned company to be publicly traded. His run ended in 2001 when he gave up majority ownership of the station to Viacom.
Number Five: They Had the Longest Continually Running Show in Cable History
Airing from 1980 to 2015, Bobby Jones Gospel has been influential in propelling the careers of established and up-and-coming gospel singers. It’s 35-year run makes it the longest running show on the channel, as well as the longest continuously running show in cable history.
Number Four: It Started as a Segment on Nickelodeon
Years before its sale to Viacom, Black Entertainment Television was a two-hour block on children’s network, Nickelodeon. It separated into its own, independent channel in 1983 and wouldn’t be associated with Viacom again until 2001.
Number Three: They Air Religious Programming Instead of Infomercials at Night
While many stations take a break from programming at night to show infomercials, Black Entertainment Television has its own block of shows for its late night viewers. Since 1998, they have been showing a religious programming block called BET Inspiration. The programming is Christian-themed, focusing on news and profiles of clergymen.
Number Two: They Have Their Own Music Festival
In 2013, the channel launched the BET Experience, bringing together the best in hip-hop and RnB music and comedy for a four-day music and lifestyle festival. Taking place at LA Live, the festival also features a free “fan fest,” a celebrity basketball game, lectures, interactive exhibits and giveaways. The festival culminates with the BET Awards.
Number One: BET Used to Have a Movie Channel
Black Entertainment Television had a deal with premium movie channel Starz in 1998 to sponsor their own movie channel. BET Movies was created to present African American-centered movies. The deal ended in 2001 when the channel was purchased by Viacom. Thank you for reading our list of six facts you didn’t know about BET. We hope you enjoyed it!