Paramount shifts VH1 brand into BET ecosystem

Paramount CEO Bob Bakish has unveiled the next phase of his internal company reorganisation, moving the iconic MTV spin-off channel VH1 into the Black Entertainment (BET) Media Group, which includes BET, BET+, BET Her, BET Studios and BET Digital. In a memo, he said the move is part of his blueprint to “accelerate the transformation of our business and maximise the full strength of Paramount”.

Bob Bakish

VH1 started life as a music channel for older demos but gradually shifted towards reality TV, and more recently has targeted the African American audience. Bakish said: “This strategic alignment will ensure VH1 − a leader in multi-cultural programming and the second largest US cable network for Black viewership − is best positioned for future success as a key part of the powerful BET ecosystem under the leadership of Scott Mills. Scott and his team continue to drive the evolution and growth of BET by building an interconnected set of leading platforms – linear, streaming, digital and studios – centered around the Black Community, Black Culture and Content.”

Bakish acknowledged the contribution of the MTV Entertainment Studios team under the leadership of Chris McCarthy and Nina L. Diaz, “who, for the past five years, have rebuilt the VH1 brand and produced powerful hit franchises from Black Ink Crew and Love & Hip Hop to RuPaul’s Drag Race. As Chris and his team continue to focus on integrating SHOWTIME and globalising the Media Networks Group, they’ll also partner with the BET teams to continue producing several of the existing hit shows on VH1.”

VH1 reaches approximately 90m households in the US but has gradually been phased out or rebranded with MTV variants around the world. BET, however, is going strong as a channel and streaming brand. Streaming service BET+ was launched as a JV between Paramount and Tyler Perry Studios in 2019, and has been growing fast.

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