Consistency has become the hallmark of Black Entertainment Television. The cable channel's leader, Debra Lee, has been with the Viacom-owned company for more than 25 years. Meanwhile, Stephen G. Hill has handled music programming and specials for BET for 13 years.
Under Hill as an executive producer, the BET Awards have become the No. 1 black family event on cable TV, the No. 1 awards show among adults on cable and the No. 1 event in social media. The BET Awards have shown the greatest growth in the number of sponsors they attract, with this year's July 1 telecast bringing in Cadillac, Coca-Cola, Ford, State Farm and Subway. Highlighting the broadcast will be the first televised performance from D'Angelo in a dozen years.
The 2011 BET Awards was watched by 7.7 million viewers, up from 7.4 million in 2010, according to Nielsen. It was the No. 2 broadcast in the network's history, trailing the 2009 awards held soon after the death of Michael Jackson.
In April, flagship show "106 & Park" registered its 15th consecutive quarter as the No. 1 music variety show on cable among adults ages 18-49, according to Nielsen data, and has been integral in launching the careers of numerous hip-hop and R&B artists. Among other hits that will continue this year are "Bobby Jones Gospel," gospel singing competition "Sunday Best" and comedy "The Game."
- Phil Gallo