According to persons familiar with the situation, Paramount Global is considering selling a majority stake in BET Media Group, which includes the streaming service BET+, the VH1 cable network, and the BET cable network and studio.
According to the people, who declined to be identified because the conversations are private, Paramount executives believe a group of wealthy Black people and institutions may value BET particularly, which could unlock value for the media asset in ways that are more challenging under its current corporate ownership. Around $1.5 billion was the BET Media Group’s total revenue in 2022.
Talks are in early stages and no deal is assured, said the people. A Paramount spokesperson declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the talks.
According to the people, the sale negotiations for BET Group are not indicative of a larger plan to start selling off parts of Paramount. According to a Wall Street Journal story, Paramount Worldwide just turned down a $3 billion offer for its premium cable network Showtime.
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While other assets at Paramount Global are closely intertwined with its flagship streaming service Paramount+, BET has its own streaming service, its own ad sales team, and an investment from actor and producer Tyler Perry. That makes a majority stake sale cleaner than a potential sale of other assets at Paramount, one of the people said.
Selling a majority stake in BET Group would allow Paramount Global to get added capital to spend on programming for Paramount+ and Pluto TV, its free ad-supported streaming service. Paramount Global said its streaming business lost $575 million last quarter.
Paramount+, which had nearly 56 million subscribers as of Dec. 31, recently announced it would combine with Showtime later this year. When the streaming services merger happens, Paramount+’s subscription prices for its various tiers will increase, the company recently said. The Showtime premium cable-TV network will change its name to Showtime with Paramount+ and start showing Paramount+ programming.