Why It’s Important That CBS Will Air This Year’s BET Awards

Cardi B
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for BET

Cardi B accepts the Album of the Year award for 'Invasion of Privacy' onstage at the 2019 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 23, 2019 in Los Angeles.

The news that the BET Awards, now in their 20th year, will make their “national broadcast premiere” on CBS on Sunday (June 28) was most welcome -- if long overdue.

It’s not that fans can’t find BET or BET HER (which will also air the show) on their TVs, but that what airs on the so-called legacy networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) confers a certain prestige and sense of cultural importance. The move could also could broaden the show’s audience beyond its core fans.

Two other major Black music and Black culture award shows do not currently air on legacy networks. The Soul Train Music Awards have aired on BET and Centric/BET HER since 2009. From 1987 to 2007, they aired on WGN America and in first-run syndication.

The NAACP Image Awards also aired on the BET networks last year. Immediately before that, they aired on TV One for several years. From 1987 through 1994, the show was pre-recorded and televised on NBC. The first live broadcast of the event, on Fox, occurred in 2007. NBC aired the show in 2013.

By contrast, both of the leading country music award shows -- the Country Music Assn. Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards -- have aired on legacy networks continuously for decades. The CMAs first aired on NBC in 1968. The show moved to CBS in 1972 and to ABC, its current home, in 2006. The ACMs first aired on ABC in 1972. The show moved to NBC in 1979 and to CBS, its current home, in 1998.

Beyond celebrating the fact that the BET Awards will finally air on broadcast television, let’s look at the nominations in a few key categories. The BET Awards present three awards that the Grammy Awards also present.

What do this year’s BET nominations tell us about the upcoming Grammy nods? Let’s take a look:

Album of the year

Two of this year’s BET nominees in this category -- DaBaby’s Kirk and Roddy Ricch’s Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial -- are eligible for Grammy consideration.

The four other BET nominees in this category are not eligible in this year’s Grammy process. Two -- Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You (Deluxe) and H.E.R.’s I Used to Know Her -- were Grammy-nominated for album of the year this past year and two others -- Megan Thee Stallion’s Fever and Beyoncé’s Homecoming: The Live Album -- were entered in the Grammy process this past year, though they weren’t nominated. (Beyoncé’s Homecoming won a Grammy for best music film.)

Best new artist

Four of this year’s BET nominees in this category -- Danileigh, Pop Smoke, Summer Walker and YBN Cordae – are eligible for Grammy consideration. Walker is viewed as one of the top contenders in the category.

(No artist has ever been Grammy-nominated in this category posthumously, which makes Pop Smoke, who died Feb. 19, a decided long shot.)

Of the two other BET nominees, Lil Nas X was Grammy-nominated in this category this past year, while Ricch is ineligible in this category because he won a Grammy (best rap performance for his featured role on Nipsey Hussle’s “Racks in the Middle”) last year.

Video of the year (known as best music video at the Grammys)

Four of this year’s BET nominees in this category – DaBaby’s “Bop,” Doja Cat’s “Say So,” Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hot Girl Summer” (featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign) and Ricch’s “The Box” – are eligible for Grammy consideration.

The other two BET nominees – Chris Brown’s “No Guidance” (featuring Drake) and DJ Khaled’s “Higher” (featuring Hussle and John Legend) – are not eligible because they were entered for best music video last year.