Showtime and BET are joining forces to bring viewers their favorite programming to one place.
As a result of ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish’s outlined plan announced back in February, the two networks are merging to launch a co-branded channel to pool their content, Deadline reports.
The new multiplex channel — SHOXBET — will feature a mix of series, films and documentaries as a means to appeal to larger Black audiences. The two networks joined the ViacomCBS merger last December, and are now coming together to achieve a common mission for Black viewers.
“This channel is really a reflection of taking those complementary elements to the next logical conclusion,” said BET Networks president Scott Mills to Variety. “And that is, both platforms really understand premium programming to African American viewers and people who value content that is anchored in African American narratives and African American stories.”
As leading consumers of both networks — with a higher adoption rate than the general population — Black viewers are being positioned as the typical premium cable audience, according to Showtime COO Tom Christie.
TheGrio reports Lena Waithe’s creativity made it possible to connect the two networks, as Showtime Networks chief exec David Nevins and BET’s Mills were able to find common ground in her two shows, “Twenties” and “The Chi.”
Waithe’s shows are regarded for introducing uncharted territory in television and making room for larger conversations about race, gender, and sexuality to take place.
According to Variety, when asked whether new programming will address racial inequality issues as a result of new civil unrest, Showtime’s Christie responded saying “The Chi” and “Desus & Mero” are “already speaking to those issues and those topics,” and function as a “foundation from which we can build from there.”
Niche channel SHOXBET now replaces Showcase in the Showtime portfolio as the new merging of these networks allows viewers to conveniently access all their favorite shows.
The new mission here for both networks is to give people more options to access premium content.
“The goal for Showtime is to become broader, more accessible to different demo targets. And we think this is a very good first step to get there,” said Christie to Variety.
The new channel officially launched via the Plex app this past Wednesday (July 15).