BET has now confirmed it is launching a new streaming service called BET+.
The service will become available at some point in the fall and at present, there’s no firm word on how much it will cost.
According to the announcement, this will be a “premier subscription video-on-demand service” that's “focused on the African American audience.”
On the premium content point, BET says the service will feature no less than 1,000 hours of content and will include new original content that’s exclusive to the service.
This includes new (and access to existing) content from Tyler Perry who is now signed up as a partner to the new BET+ service.
At present, BET has yet to confirm exactly what devices the streaming service will be accessible through when the service goes live. Instead, the announcement states BET+ will be available at launch on “Android devices such as Samsung Galaxy” and iOS, in addition to “other streaming devices.”
This is not the first time the launch of BET+ has been mentioned as recent reports did first confirm the service was in development and that it was due to be announced this week.
Most of the details in that report have now proven to be accurate, including the point about exclusive content.
Alluded to in the latest announcement, the original reports stated this exclusivity is a limited-time exclusivity. It is not that the content won’t become available elsewhere, but more so that it will be exclusive to the + service for the first eighteen-months before then becoming available to BET customers in general.
If that point is also correct, this will be one of the more fundamental differences between BET+ and most other streaming services as while every network and channel now seems to have either deployed or are readying a streaming solution, most appear to be going down a full exclusivity route.
The two most obvious examples of this is Disney and WarnerMedia. Both are expected to launch a new streaming service (also in the fall) and any and all content owned by these companies is likely to be paywalled fairly indefinitely behind the service's subscriptions.
Of course, BET Networks is a division of Viacom who still has (and will) many ongoing relationships with third-party providers, including the provision of the standard BET channel.
Therefore, permanently allocating any content to the streaming service would not only reduce the visibility of that product to traditional BET customers, but would also make it far more difficult to negotiate carriage deals in the future.
The upside of this approach is that the BET+ service is not designed to be an outright replacement or even a streaming alternative in general. Instead, it will adopt more of a complementary role and this should mean the subscription will not be that expensive compared to other streaming services - especially if the most high profile content becomes available later through other avenues.
This is particularly important as the pricing is likely to be one of the main factors that turns people on or off a subscription in the future. It is already clear that subscriptions will need to fight for consumer attention and one of the best ways to do that is a low price to begin with.