Viacom's BET to launch in the UK
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Viacom's BET Networks will launch in the UK next week as the Black entertainment network expands its global reach.
BET will make its debut in Britain on February 28 to more than 8.8 million digital satellite homes on BSkyB, with a roster of U.S. shows.
Founded in 1979 by businessman Robert Johnson, BET is the most prominent network covering African-American entertainment and culture. U.S. cable company Comcast Corp and Radio One Inc. launched rival TV One in 2004.
In Britain, where executives said no direct rival of BET's size exists, the network will offer shows including "106 & Park," a music and variety show, "College Hill," a reality show about students, and "American Gangster," a documentary series about notorious criminals.
Over time, the channel is expected to court British programmers to develop shows, executives said.
The black adult audience in Britain is estimated to be about 2 million viewers, BET International General Manager Michael Armstrong said in an interview, adding, "Our goal is to reach all consumers of black culture. that will expand out to different races within the adult set."
"For the U.K. version of BET, we will be giving BET's U.S. content a regionalized look and feel that reflects the U.K. marketplace, and as we grow and develop the channel, we look forward to partnering with the U.K. creative industry to give BET an even stronger British accent," Armstrong said in a statement.
BET will also launch a broadband Web site for its U.K. channel at a later date.
BET said it currently reaches more than 87 million households, citing Nielsen Media in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.
(Reporting by Kenneth Li, editing by Dave Zimmerman)
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