Why BET Shows Are Not Available in Africa and How to Watch Them

Why BET Shows Are Not Available in Africa and How to Watch Them

The Black Entertainment Television (BET) channel has been a staple of African American culture since its launch in 1980. With hit shows like The Game, Being Mary Jane and Real Husbands of Hollywood, BET has provided a platform for Black stories and talent on cable television. However, while BET is easily accessible for viewers in North America, the network’s reach on the African continent remains limited.

Several factors contribute to the unavailability of BET programming in most parts of Africa:

Lack of Distribution Deals

Unlike major global media brands like MTV, BET has not focused on expanding and localizing its content for international markets. BET is owned by ViacomCBS, which has preferred to maximize profits by keeping BET exclusive to the American market. Without broadcasting and syndication partnerships in place, African satellite and cable providers simply cannot carry BET as part of their channel packages. The network just isn’t available for purchase.

High Costs of Original Programming

BET’s original shows are quite expensive to produce. Reality shows like Keyshia Cole: All In and scripted series like Being Mary Jane have high production budgets. To sell BET content to African broadcasters, parent company ViacomCBS would likely need to share production costs while discounting licensing fees. There may be limited incentive for ViacomCBS to strike such deals.

Focus on American Cultural Perspective

While the Black American experience resonates with many Africans, BET’s programming is still centered on American pop culture and storytelling.cefTo sufficiently localize BET’s content for African audiences may require format changes and inclusion of pan-African perspectives. ViacomCBS hasn’t seen enough commercial potential in that kind of adaptation.

Internet Streaming Restrictions

Though BET’s website and apps allow live streaming of its channel, the content is geoblocked and thus not viewable in Africa. Video-on-demand and full episodes are also restricted, likely due to licensing issues that prevent BET from making digital content available outside of North America. Even BET International, the global offshoot meant to showcase BET content worldwide, is not accessible in Africa.

Despite these challenges, there are still a few legitimate ways for African audiences to get their BET fix:

Watch BET International via Satellite – A handful of satellite providers offer BET International in their channel packages, including DStv in Sub-Saharan Africa. This network airs a mix of BET’s popular shows and original international productions. However, accessibility is still limited to viewers with satellite TV service.

Use a VPN – Virtual Private Network (VPN) services can help bypass geoblocking restrictions by masking your location. Connecting through a server based in the U.S., Canada or Europe allows access to BET’s live stream and on-demand content from anywhere. The right VPN will make BET’s digital platforms viewable in Africa.

Catch Syndicated Shows – Some BET programs do find their way onto African networks, though usually a few years after initial release. The Game, for example, has aired in South Africa and Nigeria. Checking TV listings and streaming sites for your country may reveal additional BET reruns.

Wait for DVD Releases – Hits like The New Edition Story may eventually get official DVD releases that can be purchased online and shipped to different regions. However, African viewers would still need a DVD player capable of handling Region 1 discs.

For now, BET remains an American-centric brand. But as demand for Black entertainment continues growing worldwide, BET may eventually recognize the African market’s potential and make its content more widely available across the continent. With the right distribution strategy, BET could thrive and resonate with African audiences hungry for Black stories.

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