Viacom Signs Tyler Perry, a Blow to Oprah Winfrey’s Network

“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,” Mr. Bakish said in a statement.

Richard Greenfield, a media analyst with BTIG Research, said, “This is a sign that Shari Redstone and Bob Bakish are here to compete.”

“For too many years,” he added, “Viacom had underinvested, let their networks lose the edges they’ve had historically and let upstarts like OWN cut into their market share.”

Viacom’s gain will be OWN’s loss. Mr. Perry’s appeal, and his production of scripted shows like “The Have and Have Nots” and “If Loving You Is Wrong,” has helped OWN find its footing.

A statement from OWN cautioned that it has an exclusive TV production deal with Tyler Perry that runs through May of 2019, with series airing on the network through 2020. It also mentioned the success of its other original scripted material, like “Queen Sugar” and “Greenleaf.”

Mr. Greenfield noted that “the cable media industry is challenged in the long term, so this deal is not going to make cable networks great again.” However, he said that the recent hiring of Brian Robbins, a longtime movie and TV producer and director who is overseeing a new feature-film venture for the company, was a sign of life at Viacom and might have appealed to Mr. Perry.

A representative for Mr. Perry said he was unavailable for comment.

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Source: New York Times



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