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1 year ago

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Vying to Buy Majority Stake in BET as Paramount Global Explores Sale (EXCLUSIVE)

Sean “Diddy” Combs is entering the race to buy BET, joining fellow media moguls Tyler Perry and Byron Allen as they vie to purchase a majority stake of BET Media Group amid reports that owner Paramount Global is exploring a sale of the asset, Variety has confirmed.

Run by CEO Scott Mills, BET Media Group includes BET, BET+, VH1 (which was moved under the group in a restructuring at Paramount last November) and BET’s production arm, BET Studios.

A source close to Combs tells Variety that the global music icon and record executive turned multi-industry entrepreneur is “exploring the opportunity to purchase BET as a part of his strategy to build a Black-owned global media powerhouse.”

Another source familiar with the situation tells Variety, that while Combs has expressed interest in acquiring BET, he is not yet considered to be in talks with Paramount to purchase a majority stake. In fact, that insider says that Paramount is not yet in talks with anyone at this point in the process, but that many parties have expressed interest.

Paramount Global declined Variety‘s request for comment.

Of course, Combs is already the owner of Revolt, which he launched in 2013. Over the past decade, the network rooted in hip-hop culture has developed into a multimedia company that produces linear and digital long-form series and multi-platform short-form programming. At its inception, Revolt reached roughly 25 million households; today, that number is roughly 80 million, with its digital reach exponentially greater.

Under the leadership of CEO Detavio Samuels, who joined the company in 2020, Revolt has expanded their slate — increasing their original series offerings from 26 to 42 in two years, with weekly programs like “Revolt Black News,” “Drink Champs” and “Kingdom Culture With T.D. Jakes” producing about 40 episodes a year, plus the series “Caresha Please.” In 2022, Revolt, which is headquartered in Atlanta, also launched a podcast network with a roster of more than 30 series, as well as Revolt Mixtape, a new FAST channel for library programs and exclusives. Since January 2020, the digital audience has grown from 500,000 unique views per month to 12 million digital visitors monthly, plus 18 million social followers.

Combs also has a longstanding relationship with Paramount Global, dating back to his days with MTV, where he produced three iterations of “Making the Band” between 2002 and 2009, which were a major success for the network.

Acquiring BET would give Combs the opportunity to bring the two networks together in a unique way, broadening BET’s audience reach with Revolt’s younger and more diverse audience, plus engaging the company’s strength in digital, with a reported 12 million digital visitors monthly, plus 18 million social followers. The deal would also mark Combs’ latest venture after expanding from music into film and television production, fashion, spirits (including Cîroc and DeLeón Tequila) and, most recently, cannabis.

Most important to Combs though, a source tells Variety, is that BET return to being a Black-owned brand, which he believes is “better for the business, for the culture and for building wealth in the Black community.” Acquiring the network presents an opportunity for the Black community to come together to own an important platform and Combs would enlist a collective of high-powered Black businesspeople and entertainers to further build it up.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported Paramount Global is interested in selling off BET in an article published last Monday, “The decision to consider selling a majority stake of the assets, which cater primarily to Black audiences, is part of the entertainment giant’s effort to shore up resources to bolster its flagship Paramount+ streaming service and its advertiser-supported free streaming platform Pluto TV, some of the people said.”

Last week, Variety confirmed that Perry has had early discussions about acquiring the network, while a spokesperson for Allen stated that the Allen Media Group founder is also “interested in buying BET, and he will be pursuing the acquisition of the network.” The New York Times reported Friday that Group Black, a Black-owned, Miami-based media company, has also expressed interest. The company, founded in 2021 by Travis Montaque, Richelieu Dennis and Bonin Bough, recently put in a bid of $400 million for Vice Media and would be teaming up with CVC Capital Partners, a private-equity firm based in Luxembourg, as well as prominent Black artists and businesspeople for the potential BET deal.

Perry currently owns a minority stake in BET and also produces a large portion of the programming available on BET and streamer BET+, which he helped launch in 2019.

Allen acquired the Black News Channel for $11 million, which joins The Weather Channel along with digital outlets such as Local Now, HBCU GO and TheGrio. Allen Media Group has also invested over $1 billion in the last 3 years to acquire 27 ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates.

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