Who Owns BET? Definition & Founder



The Black Entertainment Network (BET) Holdings Inc. is a broadcasting and entertainment corporation that focuses on African-American content. BET is an affiliate marketer’s primary subscription T.V. channel with over Sixty million users that covers over 90% of its earnings. Its founder is Robert L. Johnson before it was sold to Viacom Inc. who currently owns it.

What is BET?

Black Entertainment Television (BET) is a T.V. station with its headquarters in Washington, D.C. BET is currently used by Viacom, which would be discussed later in this article. Over eighty million households around the globe watch the television station. This was the top popular T.V. station for youthful black people in the days. And also the leading supplier of African American entertainment and historical programming in early 2000. Its entertainment section runs this channel. BET also has BET Gospel, BET on Jazz, and BET Hip-Hop on basic T.V., BET Pictures, and BET International. In addition, BET controls a large portion of BET.com. It began as a 2-hour weekly broadcasting station in a few eastern locations in 1980. At the close of the year, it had increased its broadcast to 24hrs of broadcasting and fun and its audience across Northern America and the Caribbean pop songs. It has repeat vintage black condition comedies, and a few unique shows take up most of its initial programming. 

On January 25, 1980, the channel made its debut. In the late 1970s, its creator, Robert L. Johnson, was a retired broadcast T.V. lobbyist. In that position, Johnson rapidly saw the lack of African-American-oriented television content. So he founded BET to cater to that cause. Robert Johnson, an ex-telecommunications industry lobbyist, established Black Entertainment Television Holdings, Inc. around 1979. The BET T.V. Station has approximately 90 million users across the United States. Its majorities are African American viewers, who have changed this once starving firm into a necessary cultural and financial strength in the television industry.

Who owns BET?

Robert L. Johnson, a television businessman, founded BET in 1980. Johnson sensed a possibility to improve African American viewers across a cable Television network after working as a spokesman for the broadcast T.V. sector in the 1970s. It started airing short films in 1980 and was the first black-owned corporation to be placed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) eleven years afterward. It has now moved into the publishing world to diversify its investments. Emerge, BET Weekend, and Heart & Soul are just a few of the periodicals that the firm produces for black audiences. It started airing for a couple of hours every day. Movies from the early 1950s and classic horror movies dominated the entertainment T.V. Pop songs became established in modern society after introducing MTV. This cable T.V. station specializes in contemporary music. 

Johnson seized control of an additional hole to reduce prices: the scarcity of African American performers on MTV. Johnson established partnerships with record companies to boost R&B and hip-hop musicians’ videos on BET. Commercials, reruns of a gospel display, and African American college football and basketball games were also introduced to the channel. BET was going bankrupt after the first six years, so Johnson looked for fresh partners. He enlisted the help of the Taft Television Network and the Home Box Office. BET’s broadcast period was raised to 24hrs a day due to this move, which brought additional cash for the network. As a result, BET made its first gain in the early 1990s. Pop songs and broadcasts aimed at a younger demographic were initially staples of BET broadcast. Still, the channel widened its concentration to cover social and argument programs, comedy performances, chat programs, and athletics, among other things. 

Johnson turned BET into a public firm in 1991 after establishing it as a profitable specialized media organization. BET was publicly traded till 1998 after Johnson and other investors took ownership of the company. After two years, the firm teamed up with M.S. to launch MSBET, an internet service that provides speed news on events, artists, films, and television programs. In addition, BET has grown its broadcast T.V. content by adding a public relations display, a weekly episode for adolescents, and live transmissions of community hall gatherings that discuss current topics affecting African-American society. Viacom Inc. purchased BET for $3 billion by Johnson and his associates in 2000. Around Ninety million residences are served by the system. Book production and program management are examples of BET’s associated enterprises.

Brief Background History Around Black Entertainment Television (BET) Founder

Johnson is the ninth of 10 kids birthed to Edna and Archie Johnson in Hickory, Mississippi, in 1946. His father was a farmer, and his mother was a teacher. Speaking to the Washington Post, Johnson often said that he needed to force his way to the lunch table “to grab his rightful portion even though his parents were not particularly needy.” While he was a kid, his family relocated to Freeport, Illinois. During high school, Johnny was an excellent student. In 1968, Johnson earned a B.A. in social studies at the University of Illinois. In 1972, he graduated from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs with a master’s degree in public affairs.

Upon finishing high school at Princeton, Johnson secured employment in Washington, D.C., which transported him to the media industry. He worked with the Organization for Broadcasting Television as the public relations manager. He understood the strength and potential value of broadcasting while working in this job. At that time, he was the media manager for the Washington, D.C., Police Department. The National Urban League’s headquarters are located in Washington, D.C., where Congressman Walter E. Fauntroy hired Johnson as his press secretary. He went on to become the National Cable and Television Association’s vice president of government relations (NCTA)

Johnson was accepted as the owner of an expansion club in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2003 after acquiring a National Basketball Association franchise in 1990. The Bobcats, the new squad, began action in 2004. The Sting, a Women’s National Basketball Association club in Charlotte, was included in Johnson’s $300 million acquisition of the franchise. C-SET (Carolinas Sports Entertainment Network), a regional sports and entertainment cable television network, was founded by Johnson in October 2004. The channel, however, faltered and shut down the following year. Both basketball teams were likewise out of money. Johnson sold the Sting to the WNBA in 2006, and the team dissolved the following year. Michael Jordan bought a controlling share in the Bobcats from him in 2010.

Viacom Inc

Viacom Inc. is an American large corporate global business mass media, and amusement giant company located at the One Astor Plaza facility in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, United States. It was created by the partnership of the new coming of CBS Company and the 2nd version of Viacom on December 4, 2019, that were separated from the 1st version of Viacom in 2006. Viacom stated that it would offer BET the means to keep expanding while maintaining top executives in charge who understand how to address the black listeners. In return, it anticipates reaping the benefits of running a well-known business among a demographic that is increasing in quantity and revenue quicker than the overall population. Viacom was primarily drawn to BET. It allowed the television to meet the target audience (Blacks). This community was expanding faster than the rest of the U.S. industry and consuming more information. BET Holdings’ most significant assets, like Black Entertainment Television, will likewise be available to Viacom. 

BET competes on a broad level with other major media corporations, such as Time Warner and ABC, as part of the Viacom media empire. The WB, which has some programming aimed at African Americans and the smaller cable stations Major Broadcasting Cable Network (MBC) and New Urban Entertainment, are all direct competitors of BET (NUE-TV). BET was the sole black-targeted T.V. station, with a viewership of 62.4 million. BET Holdings also operated a jazz station with around 11 million customers and an 8.5 million-subscriber Active PPV service. Furthermore, BET Holdings’ double-digit income and profit growth pleased Viacom managers.

BET’s Finances

The most recent financial data is from fiscal 1997, which ended on July 31, 1997. BET was a publicly-traded business before being made private by Johnson and Liberty Media and sold to Viacom as a wholly-owned business private subsidiary. BET had a net profit of $23.8 million on revenues of $154.2 million in 1997. Advertising revenues brought in $80.6 million, subscription payments brought in $69.3 million, and other sources brought in $4.4 million. In addition, national spot advertising brought in $51.7 million, infomercials brought in $21.2 million, and direct response advertising brought in the rest.


BET lost a lot of money during its early days, but by the mid-1980s, it started earning a significant amount. BET began diversifying its functionality in 1985, attaching economic newscasts, comedy demonstrates, tv programs, and athletics characteristics. Due to CNN Money, BET was the first African American corporation to be sold on the New York Stock Exchange in 1991. Most of the money gained in the IPO was spent to pay down debt and repurchase shares held by Great American Broadcasting, another television giant.


  1. Who is the owner of BET? Viacom Inc owns the television station Black Entertainment Television (BET)
  2. How much did Viacom Inc buy BET? Viacom Inc bought BET for $3 billion.
Who Owns BET? Definition & Founder

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