BET Studios launches with a share-the-wealth strategy for Black creators
The Future. ViacomCBS is launching BET Studios — a Black-operated production studio that focuses on supporting Black filmmakers with creative freedom and equity ownership in their creations. It’s already recruited several top talents, and BET Studios could provide a blueprint for other entertainment conglomerates on how to diversify content by empowering the very people behind that content.
ViacomCBS has created a new television studio around its BET label.
- It’s opening BET Studios, a production venture to be run by former Warner Bros. Television exec Aisha Summers-Burke.
- The studio will share equity ownership to the Black creators it works with across film, TV, and digital.
- It will make content for buyers within the ViacomCBS ecosystem, including Paramount+, Showtime, CBS, BET, and “select third-party platforms.”
BET Studios has brought in creators Kenya Barris (Black-ish, Grown-ish, Girls Trip) , Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation, #BlackAF), and Aaron Rahsaan Thomas (S.W.A.T., The Get Down) as partners.
There have been rumblings for the past year that whatever BET was cooking up would be a boon for creators. Last October, Barris left halfway through his $100 million deal with Netflix for the upstart studio because he didn’t want to produce the more broadly-accessible shows that the streamer expected from him.
Barris, speaking with THR, said of the move: “It’s a special time in this industry if you’re Black and you have something to say. I want to do in-your-face sh*t.”
BET President Scott Mills says that the studio is “the first major studio to provide Black creators with ownership, creative freedom and the unparalleled partnership and support of BET.” With that kind of mission, expect several more Black creators to flock to BET as a place that supports both their art and their wallet.