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BET’s 2011 Schedule Crosses Platforms

4/25/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Buoyed by the success
of its freshman scripted series
The Game and Let’s Stay Together,
BET said it will launch several
new fiction-based shows both
on-air and on the Web as part of
its 2011 programming schedule.

BET, which set a network ratings
record in 2010, this fall will
premiere Reed Between the Lines,
a comedy sitcom starring Tracee
Ellis Ross (Girlfriends) and Malcom-
Jamal Warner (The Cosby
Show
), the network announced
during its upfront presentation
to advertisers last week.

The series will complement The
Game
, which last month finished
its fourth season — the first three
aired on broadcast network The
WB — as BET’s most-watched series
of all time, with an average of
4 million viewers, and Let’s Stay
Together
, which averaged more
than 2 million viewers in its first
season.

“The success of The Game
and Let’s Stay Together
shows that our audience
is really interested
in well-told, creative
stories with characters
that they can care
about,” Loretha Jones,
BET’s original programming
president,
said.

The network will
also debut three scripted
Web-based series
later this year, two of
which delve into the
thriller/sci-fi genre.BET.com, wh i ch
launched its first major
Web series in 2009
with the Tatyana Ali
vehicle Buppies, will
debut this fall Odessa,
which follows a man
and his young daughter
on the run from scientists
who bestowed
them with psychokinetic
abilities; and
Asylum, a thriller that
follows a team of doctors as they diagnose and treat patients
at a hospital for the criminally insane.

Two other Web series include Lenox Ave., which tells
the story of three male friends in their mid-20s navigating
love, relationships and careers, and The Come Up, which
follows the lives of seven teens in Washington, D.C., as
they actively pursue their dreams.

Denmark West, president of BET’s Digital Media
Group, told Multichannel News the shows — which will
both run for about 10 three- to six-minute episodes —
could find their way on the air if successful.

“Consumers are looking for that same episodic experience
— It’s just a question of how we package it for
them,” West said. “We believe we’ve reached a point
where the market was ready for both the consumer side
and the brand and advertising agency side to actually
help us develop, cultivate and launch these webisode
series,” he said.

Other new BET shows include The Message: The History
of Hip-Hop
, a four-part series that chronicles the history,
music, culture and message of hip-hop music.

Returning BET series include gospel music competition
show Sunday Best; music-video countdown show 106 &
Park; and late-night talk shows The Mo’Nique Show and
The Wendy Williams Show.

BET’s tentpole specials The BET Awards, Black Girls
Rock
, BET Honors, Rip the Runway, Celebration of Gospel
and BET Hip-Hop Awards will also return in 2011-12,
according to the network.

September