BET, part of ViacomCBS, has launched BET Studios, a studio venture offering equity ownership for Black content creators, with principal partners Kenya Barris, Rashida Jones and Aaron Rahsaan Thomas.
Backed by the infrastructure and financing of BET and ViacomCBS, BET Studios will create television series and films for internal buyers like Paramount+, Showtime, CBS, Nickelodeon, BET+ and BET, in addition to select third-party platforms.
BET Studios will be headed by Aisha Summers Burke, who was recently named executive vice president and general manager of the new venture, reporting to BET president Scott Mills. In addition to overseeing the company’s day-to-day creative affairs, Summers Burke will also be responsible for the BET Studios content slate and growing production output across both internal and external platforms.
Prior to joining BET, Summers Burke spent 13 years at Warner Bros. Television, most recently as vice president of scripted television for the cable and streaming division of Warner Horizon before it was merged with Warner Bros. TV in 2020.
“The demand for premium content from Black creators has accelerated dramatically as a result of both the rapidly changing media and social landscapes. BET, with our 40-year legacy of celebrating Black culture, and the full power of the ViacomCBS ecosystem — is uniquely positioned to service this demand,” said Mills in a release. “As a company with its origin in Black entrepreneurship, we are incredibly excited to create the first major studio to provide Black creators with ownership, creative freedom and the unparalleled partnership and support of BET. I am thrilled to have Aisha at the helm of this venture, and I look forward to our collaboration with our amazing creative partners in BET Studios.”
“BET has long been celebrated for excellence in producing quality programming that authentically depicts experiences lived within the Black community,” added Summers Burke. “With the launch of BET Studios, we are excited to introduce a new model that opens the aperture to a broad array of platforms and supports the full range of content from Black creators. This entrepreneurial environment offers creatives the opportunity to produce diverse high-end content reflecting all aspects of entertainment.”