BET Targets Black Faith Viewers with Introduction of T.D. Jakes & Sheard Family to Programming Lineup
By Vanessa Atkins/EEW MAGAZINE ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER
Has the Viacom-owned cable network BET suddenly fallen in love with Jesus? If you look at the way their primetime lineup is shaping up this year you might be inclined to believe so. With additions like Bishop T.D. Jakes’ talk show and Detroit’s royal family, the Sheards’ new reality show, one thing is sure: BET is aiming to reel in lots more of the black faith audience.
At this point, it seems like a pretty smart move for BET executives to include more religious programming, especially after “Sunday Best,” the gospel singing reality competition hosted by Kirk Franklin, just wrapped its 5th season with its highest season finale ratings ever—2.6 million viewers.
Though those numbers are dwarfed by mainstream shows like Fox’s “American Idol,” which drew in approximately 21.5 million viewers for its season finale in May, Viacom still recognizes that BET performs well within the minority faith demographic.
Based upon research, this new push makes perfect sense.
A recent study by the Kaiser Foundation and the Washington Post reveals that African-Americans are among the most religious group of people in America. 74% of black women and 70% of black men polled revealed that living a religious life is very important to them.
It appears that Viacom is working to combine programming that highlights elements of black culture, as well as faith, to generate huge ratings returns.
Higher ratings mean more advertising revenue, which is the primary focus and concern of any major cable network.
According to Variety, Charlie Jordan Brookins, BET's Senior VP of original programming said, "We are trying to bring (spiritual themes) into the fabric of our programming in general.”
Bishop T.D. Jakes and the Sheard family certainly have strong influence in the black faith community and are expected to deliver significant ratings for the network.
What are your thoughts about BET delivering more spiritual programming? Will this encourage you to tune into the cable network?