A new report suggests Paramount Global has dropped plans to sell its majority stake in BET Media Group.
The BET Media Group includes VH1 and BET cable networks and the BET+ streaming service. According to those familiar with the situation, bidders were notified that Paramount decided to end the sale process. Paramount concluded divesting a majority stake wouldn’t result in any meaningful deleveraging of its balance sheet.
Digital Music News reported on initial bidders for the potential sale of the BET network. Interested parties included 50 Cent, Shaquille O’Neal, Tyler Perry, and Diddy. Tyler Perry has held a 25% stake in BET and the BET+ streaming service since 2019 and was critical in getting the service off the ground.
“When this came up, I thought ‘Wow, this is meant to be.’ What I can tell you is it’s worth a lot more with me than it is without me,” Tyler Perry told Fortune about the potential deal in March 2023. Perry reportedly bid in the $2 billion range, which is less than the $3 billion Paramount was hoping to score for the properties.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Paramount received bids in the $2-3 billion range. For now, it’s unclear what future cable networks have going forward. Only 45% of U.S. households have cable or satellite TV, with most cord-cutting for streaming-only solutions. Nielsen reported that TV accounted for less than 50% of total viewing time in the United States for July 2023—a feat that has never happened before in the history of tracking viewership.
With TV viewership rapidly dropping in the United States, it’s unclear how long these channels will remain on the air. Will these formerly music-focused networks be forced to pivot yet again? BET+ is one option; moving into the streaming realm is pretty much the only recourse as Gen Z, the children of cord-cutters, begin paying their own bills.