Tyler Perry has entered into a multiyear content partnership with Viacom, it was announced yesterday. The deal will cover TV, film and shortform video projects, including producing approximately 90 episodes annually of original drama and comedy series for BET and other Viacom networks. Viacom will have exclusive licensing rights on this programming and exclusive distribution rights to his shortform video content.
Paramount, meanwhile, will have exclusive “first-look” rights on any new feature film concepts from Perry.
The move comes as Viacom has been focusing on strengthening its talent relationships, and Perry has been a reliable producer of films and TV in the comedy space, including his Madea film franchise and his slate of series on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network.
The film component of the deal is effective immediately, with the partnership on Perry’s TV and shortform video content to go into effect in May 2019, following the expiration of Perry’s exclusive agreement with OWN. Viacom’s agreement will extend through 2024.
“Today’s announcement represents an important step forward as Viacom continues to make swift progress against our new strategic plan,” said Viacom president and CEO Bob Bakish. “By prioritizing efforts to work with the best, most versatile talent in the entertainment industry, we are better positioned to deliver must-watch content across our brands and platforms. Tyler is a prolific creative force, and I’m excited that this collaboration will bring his signature humor and powerful storytelling to Viacom’s audiences while further cementing BET’s position as the leading home for bold, relevant African-American programming and scripted content.”
Added Debra L. Lee, chairman and CEO of BET: “I am delighted that we are deepening our longstanding relationship with Tyler. BET co-funded Tyler’s very first feature film, we’ve aired his movies and many of his series with great success on our networks, and we’ve honored his tremendous talent with our signature awards. This partnership will allow us to work even more closely with him and bring more of his iconic content to our viewers.”
Perry is the creative mind behind seven television series and 16 feature films in addition to 20 plays and a best-selling book. His first TV series, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, set then-ratings records for a basic cable sitcom when it debuted on TBS and was followed up by the successful Meet the Browns.
Perry’s new collaboration with BET comes in addition to the five series he currently has on the air. On Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, he exec produces The Haves and Have Nots, If Loving You Is Wrong, For Better or Worse and Love Thy Neighbor, and one series for TLC, Too Close to Home.
“Viacom has a rich tradition of reaching my audience through their TV, film and digital platforms and I am excited to partner with them,” said Perry. “I am eager to have one home where I can leverage all of their assets to tell my stories to an even wider audience. I have been very blessed to have worked with the incredible people at Lionsgate and OWN over the last few years, and I look forward to continuing my work with them on a non-exclusive basis.”
Too Close to Home marked TLC’s first foray into scripted while Perry’s slate of series helped give OWN a major boost on the scripted side in the network’s early years before the additions of prestige dramas Greenleaf and Queen Sugar last year. (Both cable networks are owned by Discovery Communications.)
OWN issued a statement Friday about Perry’s upcoming move, mentioning both Greenleaf and Queen Sugar by name.
“OWN has an exclusive overall television production deal with Tyler Perry that runs through May of 2019 with series airing on the network through 2020. At the end of the exclusive relationship, OWN and Tyler Perry have the option to work together on a non-exclusive basis,” the network said. “OWN has had great success in the scripted space with Tyler Perry and with its new original dramas Queen Sugar and Greenleaf. The network will continue to aggressively expand its roster of premium original scripted series.”
For BET, the partnership with Perry comes several months after Viacom unveiled a new plan for its extensive cable portfolio that would focus on six core brands, one of which is BET. Since the success of its first original scripted series The Game and Being Mary Jane, the network has been pushing further into the originals space in recent years with The Quad, Rebel and Tales, all which debuted earlier this year.