Viacom’s BET Network has announced plans to expands its streaming services to include stand alone devices such as Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast, and Roku.
Black Entertainment Television, or BET for short, is an American basic cable channel that is owned by Viacom’s BET Networks division. Getting its start in 1980 as a short block on Nickelodeon, and graduating to a full time access channel in 1983, BET reaches approximately 55 million households, with an increasing viewership daily. Home to attentive awards shows (including BET Honors, BET Awards, and BET Walk of Fame Awards), original films, and scripted series, BET’s core programing became the first black controlled television company in 1991. In 2001, owner Robert L. Johnson sold the network to Viacom, launching it into one of the biggest broadcasting chains in television.
Since we are gradually shifting into a more digitally controlled state, streaming media and content has seen a steady peak in distribution and production. With sites like Netflix and Hulu releasing content daily, it was only a matter of time before cable companies made their services available in various formats. Cable television networks are no strangers to allowing users to watch content online from a computer, but have recently diverged their traffic to mobile apps and assorted streaming services. Until now, BET has only provided unlimited digital on demand access to an assortment of content through their Apple iOS and Android platforms.
Announced earlier this week, BET Now will allow users of specified streaming devices to access their programming. Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast, and Roku players will allow a download of the BET app to provide users with extensive online viewership. While their content is only available to paying users of participating television providers, this will increase their expanding audience. Kay Madati, BET’s executive VP and chief digital officer quoted on Variety, “We are proud to add Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku to our ever-growing portfolio of BET Digital offerings and in turn expand our TV Everywhere footprint.”
Many original programs has seen major success on BET, with shows such as Real Husbands of Hollywood, which stars Kevin Hart and Nick Cannon, and Being Mary Jane, starring Gabrielle Union. In addition to full length episodes, the app offers exclusive specials, online bonus content, digital material, and the ability to watch a live stream of the channel. This news comes months after Viacom launched BET Play, a $4 a month streaming service to viewers outside of the US, France, Italy, and Africa.
BET Now is currently available on iOS and Android devices, and now including Roku players, Apple TV, and Google’s Chromecast. The service requires a paid subscription from a television provider, which covers more than 20 distributing companies, such as Optimum and DirecTv.