50 Cent, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenya Barris Each Tendering Offer for BET Networks

BET Networks
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BET Networks
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Photo Credit: Alex Const / CC by 2.0

A group of celebrities, including 50 Cent, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenya Barris, are each tendering an offer for a majority stake in BET Networks.

Several celebrities, including rapper 50 Cent, basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, and TV producer Kenya Barris, are looking to pitch an offer for a majority stake in Paramount Global’s BET Media Group. 

The trio has teamed up with Group Black, a company aiming to invest in and grow Black-owned media firms, private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, and Authentic Brands Group, which develops and licenses brands for retail use.

Advertisers have increased their spending with minority-owned outlets within the past few years. One of Group Black’s goals is to increase the amount of Black-owned media by acquiring high-profile media brands, including Vice Media and BDG. However, deals with those brands have yet to materialize.

BET Media Group includes the VH1 and BET cable networks and the BET+ streaming service. Paramount Global is looking to sell non-core assets, including its majority stake in BET, as it allocates more resources to its streaming service, Paramount+. 

Other celebrities whose interest in BET Media Group has been piqued include actor-producer Tyler Perry (joined with private equity firm Ariel Alternatives, a subsidiary of asset management company Ariel Investments) and musician Sean “Diddy” Combs (joined with investment firm HarbourView Equity Partners) and his company, Revolt.

Media entrepreneur Byron Allen, whose Allen Media Broadcasting owns assets including the Weather Channel and several local TV stations, has expressed interest in acquiring a majority stake in BET. 

But potential bidders like Tyler Perry and Kenya Barris might seem more likely candidates, given their existing ties with BET. Perry owns a minority stake in BET+, while Barris holds a minority stake in BET Studios, the brand’s production arm.

Black Entertainment Television was founded in 1980 by Robert Johnson with financial backing from cable mogul John Malone. BET was the first national programming service primarily targeting Black viewers. Viacom, now Paramount Global, acquired BET in 2000 for $2.3 billion in stock — and assumed its $570 million in debt.