BET Analysis - September 2011



* Bold denotes programming change


The BET Monday - Friday schedule typically features a movie each night at 8 or 9 with original programming / encores filling the remaining hour. Premiere night for new series is Tuesday. The practice of scattering encores throughout the week has been curbed in recent months, giving movies a dominant, if not prominent role. Sunday night is a mix of programming, including movies, original series, encores, news specials and encores of specials.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / September 2011 vs. September 2010  (% Change)




Monday 8-11pm




Tuesday 8-11pm




Wednesday 8-11pm




Thursday 8-11pm




Friday 8-11pm




Saturday 8-11pm




Sunday 8-11pm




MTWTFSS 8-11pm




*Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

SEPTEMBER 2011: BET’S core bottom-line 18-49 ratings were nearly identical to last year’s ratings, but there were significant differences on many levels. Most noticeable was the increased audience age, which was nearly five years older this year. Last year the top performers were the theatrical Madea’s Family Reunion and a mini marathon of THE GAME. This year SUNDAY BEST was the stand-out as the gospel competition program brought in the biggest (and oldest) audiences among a short list of programming.

BET has trimmed primetime down to just two programs; SUNDAY BEST and BORN TO DANCE: LAURIE ANN GIBSON were the only regularly scheduled shows on the line-up this month. In an important scheduling change, neither program receives encores outside of its premiere night. The old BET would run irregularly scheduled encores all over the line up until ratings tanked (and many times, even after that). Today’s BET offers just a couple of primetime programs with very few primetime encores, yielding the majority of the schedule to acquired theatricals.

Theatricals all skew female at BET -- even the top-rated films with seemingly male-skewing titles such as Notorious, Stomp the Yard, B.A.P.S. and American Gangster Movie. As a whole, movies delivered ratings below the primetime average this month; last year they helped pull up the primetime average. Women 18-49 ratings fell 22% lower than last year’s levels and 20% lower than last month’s.

Season four of SUNDAY BEST concluded with its last two episodes this September. The finale topped last month’s ratings, but the Labor Day episode was well below average. Still, with just two new episodes, it was the best-rated program on the line up and  placed the top three telecasts on the top rated telecast list.

BORN TO DANCE: LAURIE ANN GIBSON is pulling respectable, if not exceptional numbers in the BET signature Tuesday 10PM slot. It consistently grew core women 18-49 audience from the lead-in movie and handily beat last year’s fare (THE GAME and specials), bringing Tuesday nights up by 9% over September 2010. Drop-off vs. its premiere month performance was at the low end of the expected range with a 15% decline.

There were a few specials on the air this month again. Another encore of the BET AWARDS and another encore of AALIYAH: ONE IN A MILLION did well, but the UNICEF: AN EVENING OF STARS failed to draw audiences.

BET continues to put forth a limited line-up, but it is ready to expand. All eyes are on the performance of REED BETWEEN THE LINES, the network’s third original sitcom this year, an updated take-off on THE COSBY SHOW. BET has come a long way, but will its audiences be ready for the family brand of comedy?

Network head Debra Lee says she wants to take BET into drama next, and the network has announced its first made-for-TV-movie, Gun Hill. “I want BET to establish itself as a content creator,” she says, “and give our audience images of themselves that they are not getting anywhere else.”