Content

BET’S FIRST QUARTER CENTURY

4/10/2005 8:00 PM Eastern


1979


Aug. 8 Robert Johnson announces plans to create BET.
Sept. 28 MSOs Warner Cable, American Telecommunications Corp. and TelePrompTer agree to carry BET on their systems.
Nov. 27 MSO Tele-Communications Inc. invests $180,000 and provides a $320,000 loan for a 20% stake in BET.

1980


Jan. 25 BET premieres, offering 3.8 million subs in 350 markets two hours of programming on Friday night from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET.
May 9 BET makes its first foray into original programming, committing $1 million for the production of black collegiate sports and cable specials.

1981


Jan. 25 5.3 million cable subscribers in 544 markets.
June 26 Premiere of Video Soul, a half-hour music program.

1982


Feb. 17 Taft Broadcasting Co. invests $1 million for a 20% stake.
Aug. 15 BET’s Programming is expended to a six-hour nightly block from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. eastern time.

1983


April 1 6.4 million cable subs.
Sept. 25 Home Box Office takes a minority stake in BET.
Oct. 1 BET launches a 24-hour program schedule.

1985


Jan. 25 BET turns five with 8 million subscribers in 40 states.

1986


Oct. 10 U.S.’s first black national news program, BET News, debuts.

1987


Sept. 15 BET launches its first national consumer awareness campaign.
Nov. 1 17.4 million subs in 1,000 markets.

1988


Dec. 8 As part of an aggressive push into original programming BET announces plans for nine new shows for the 1989-90 fall season.

1989


Jan. 1 Carriage fees increase to 5 cents per subscriber.
April 1 BET opens a new $10 million production facility.
June 1 23 million subs in 1,300 markets.

1990


Jan. 25 BET celebrates its 10-year anniversary with 25 million subscribers in 50 states.
Sept. 18 BET announces plans for an initial public offering, and establishes BET Holdings Inc. as the new parent company.

1991


Nov. 1 BET’s stock begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange, a first for a black-owned media and entertainment company.

1993


May 24Business Week lists BET in its “100 Best Small Corporations” issue.
Sept. 21 BET announces plans to create BET On Jazz.

1994


Jan. 3 Subs grow 13% in 1993 to 39.1 million homes.
Aug. 24 BET acquires 72 episodes of Roc.

1995


Jan. 25 BET celebrates 15th anniversary with The Big 15 Kickoff Jam.
March 6 A new six-story corporate headquarters opens in Washington, D.C.
June 2 BET Film Productions and United Image Entertainment premiere their first theatrical film, Out of Sync.
Aug. 10A Tribute to Black Music Legends receives an Emmy.
Sept. 22 Michael Jackson is the first person to be inducted into the BET Walk of Fame.
Nov. 2 BET Holdings Inc. buys out Time Warner’s (i.e, HBO’s) stake for $58 million.

1996


Jan. 15 Launch of BET on Jazz: The Cable Jazz Channel
Jan. 24 O.J. Simpson’s first interview following his acquittal gets a 6.9 rating, BET’s highest.
March 19 Debra L. Lee appointed president and chief operating officer

1997


Jan. 31 Launch of BET Movies/STARZ!, the nation’s first 24-hour black movie channel.
Oct. 15 BET bows in Canada reaching 4 million homes.

1998


May 5 The debut of BET Soundz, a package of digital music networks.
June 16 Buys Arabesque Books.
July 30 Shareholders approve a $378 million deal for Robert Johnson and Liberty Media Group to take the company private.

1999


Aug. 12 BET Holdings, Microsoft Corp., Liberty Digital LLC, News Corp., and USA Networks agree to make an initial cash investment of $35 million to create BET.com.

2000


Feb. 7 Launch of BET.com
May 6 BET celebrates its 20th anniversary with a star-studded gala.
July 10 60 million subs
Nov. 3 Viacom purchases BET for $3 billion.
Nov. 28 Rap-It-Up, a national awareness campaign addressing HIV/AIDS in the African-American community, is created.

2001


Jan. 20 BET airs its first Celebration of Gospel Special.
June 22 The annual BET Awards Show pulls in a 4.26 rating.

2002


April 15 Launch of New Spirit, BET’s third book imprint.
Aug. 8 73 million households

2003


June 24BET Music Awards attracts a 4.3 rating and 5.5 million viewers.

2004


Jan. 28 First reality show, College Hill, bows with a 1.4 rating, a record premiere of a BET series.
April 13 BET makes its first upfront presentation.
June 29 Fourth annual BET Awards sets record with 5.6 million viewers.
Oct. 13 Robert Johnson inducted into the Cable Center’s Hall of Fame.
Oct. 26 BET’s 10th Anniversary Walk of Fame honoring Smoky Robinson is watched by 2.6 million viewers, a record for the show.

2005


Jan. 25 BET turns 25 with some 80 million subs.
Feb. 27Diary of a Mad Black Woman theatrical film grosses $21.9 million on its opening weekend.
Feb. 28 First installment of The Cousin Jeff Chronicles airs.
March 24Rip The Runway, BET’s fashion and music extravaganza, airs.

November

Next TV

Affinia Manhattan, New York, NY