BET’s renewal of The Game and Let’s Stay Together announced Monday is not surprising, given the better than expected ratings performances of the two comedies.
What’s exciting for viewers of the African-American targeted network is that BET isn’t resting on its laurels and will continue its push into the scripted series arena. The network is planning to launch family comedy series Reed Between the Lines, starring Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show) and Tracee Ross Ellis (Girlfriends), which the network previewed at last September’s NAMIC Conference.
The network also is reportedly set to debut two more new comedies, a drama series and an original movie over the next year, all of which is expected to be presented to advertisers during BET’s upfront event Wednesday in New York.
The network’s success with The Game in particular has proven that there’s an audience for scripted fare featuring predominantly African-American or multicultural casts. The Game, which was trashed by the CW after three seasons, proved to be ratings treasure for BET in its inaugural run on the network.
The series about the lives of players on a fictional football team remains the most watched comedy debut in cable history with 7.7 million viewers. The show also finished as BET’s most watched series - scripted or reality - in the network’s history.
With African-Americans owning four or more sets per household and using their TVs an average of 7 hours 12 minutes each day — far exceeding the total U.S. average according to a recent Nielsen report — its makes smart business sense for BET and other cable networks to offer appealing programming to that audience.
TBS, with African-American targeted scripted series Are We There Yet? and Tyler Perry’s Meet The Browns and House Of Payne –as well as TV One with its comedy sitcom Love That Girl! — have figured that out to their ratings benefit.
BET is showing that they’re playing to win in the scripted game arena.