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Digital Media

BET to launch standalone streaming service

But the app for Viacom's black culture network won't be available to cord-cutters in the US.

Viacom is launching its BET network as a standalone online service, as it dips another toe in the video streaming waters.


BET Play won't stream the network's live channel, but it will let international subscribers watch live events and shows on demand online.


The new online subscription service, called BET Play, will be available in 100 countries for $3.99 a month or the local currency equivalent, the company said in a statement Wednesday. However, BET Play won't be an option in markets where you can watch the network's programming with a regular pay-TV subscription.

That means BET Play won't be available in the US, but will be in Australia. The U.K. is an exception: BET Play will launch there, even though the channel is available on television.

With BET Play, Viacom joins the parade of traditional TV companies launching digital subscription video services. As consumers shift their viewing online, regular television networks are diving into online subscriptions in the hopes of recapturing that escaping audience and staying relevant with young viewers.

Viacom has been slower than some of its peers. Networks such as CBS and HBO launched standalone streaming services more than a year ago. Viacom began testing the model last year with a niche Nickelodeon-related app called Noggin.

BET Play won't provide a live feed of the network's programming, but it will make episodes of series like "Being Mary Jane" and "Real Husbands of Hollywood" available on demand. It will also provide live broadcasts of big events like the BET Awards this week.

The service will work on Apple devices and on smartphones and tablets that run Google's Android software. It will also run on Apple AirPlay-enabled television sets without the need for a broader pay TV subscription.