A new streaming service from Viacom is hitting the international market today: BET Play, a video-on-demand application aimed at an adult audience, offering access to programming from the entertainment-focused BET cable television channel. This is only the second streaming service to emerge from Viacom, but the first for adults. The company previously launched Noggin, which includes a selection of Nickelodeon’s kids shows.
The company says BET Play will offer over-the-top access to BET’s award shows, like the 2016 BET Awards, plus current and classic TV series, documentaries, stand-up comedy specials, entertainment news and musical performances.
It will be available on both iOS and Android devices, and content can be streamed via AirPlay to your television set.
However, this app will only be accessible outside the U.S., where it doesn’t have to worry about competing with BET’s cable TV business. The Viacom arm handling this launch, Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN), notes that stateside, customers can watch BET through an app that works through their pay TV provider instead.
VIMN also offers an authenticated TV app called Viacom Play Plex, which launched last November, and includes content from MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Channel and Comedy Central. This app has been downloaded more than 8 million times in over 40 markets, and has served up 150 million streams, it says.
BET Play, however, won’t require customers to have a pay TV subscription, as it’s a direct-to-consumer subscription. It’s live now in the app stores of 100 international markets, including the U.K.
The service will launch with a 7-day free trial, then will cost US$3.99 per month.
In total, there are 280 episodes available at launch, accounting for 150 hours of content. Included are 16 franchises, like “Being Mary Jane” with Gabrielle Union, Kevin Hart’s “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” “Chasing Destiny” with Kelly Rowland, “Zoe Ever After” with Brandy Norwood, “106 & PARK,” short-form original content from “#BLX” and others.
The service will also live stream events like the BET Award on June 26, the BET Hip Hop Awards and the Soul Train Awards. A live, linear feed of BET Soul, BET’s music channel, is offered as well.
The launch is the latest in what’s been a series of TV channels debuting their own streaming service as an alternative (or add-on) to larger competitors like Netflix, Amazon or Hulu — where some BET shows already reside for access by U.S. customers.
CBS has its own streaming service called CBS All Access, soon to be home to a new “Star Trek” series; A&E’s Lifetime lets you stream its movies over-the-top for $4 per month; premium cable channels like HBO, Showtime and Starz have also launched their own, pricier subscription services; Cinemax launched a standalone add-on for Sling TV. And Viacom, as noted above, programs Noggin for kids.