WASHINGTON, D.C. Feb. 1, 1996 BET Holdings Inc. and Microsoft Corp. announced today that they will launch a joint venture and have agreed to form a new company to deliver compelling interactive entertainment and information. BET, the leader in high-quality entertainment and information programming for African Americans, and Microsoft, the worldwide leader in software for personal computers, will work together closely to produce a broad range of engaging content, including Internet online programming, interactive television and CD-ROM titles. The goal is to create the premier brand for African-American consumers on the information superhighway.
“This joint venture will help to ensure that black and urban consumers will be full participants in the information and economic opportunities provided by the converging communications industry,”
said Bob Johnson, chairman and CEO of BET Holdings.
“BET is excited about working with Microsoft in a shared vision for the information age.”
“BET has been an innovator in the entertainment industry, and we are proud to announce our alliance,”
said Bill Gates, chairman and CEO of Microsoft.
“I believe BET and Microsoft will help to make the Internet and the interactive entertainment industry a place that is exciting for all consumers. This joint venture is a great combination of BET’s strong leadership and experience in this market and Microsoft’s leading-edge technology.”
The new company that Microsoft and BET have agreed to form will be owned equally by Microsoft and BET. The company will be managed from BET headquarters in Washington, D.C. Initially, BET and Microsoft will focus on developing interactive programming that is intended to be delivered via MSN
, The Microsoft Network. Offerings are expected to include music, arts and entertainment, public affairs, teen programming and merchandising targeting African-American consumers. As part of the joint venture, Microsoft and BET plan to offer a program for other companies servicing the African-American marketplace to provide content under this brand.
An initial collaboration between BET and Microsoft can be viewed on MSN now. In celebration of Black History Month, the companies collaborated on a title launched today.
“Songs and Stories: MSN Celebrates Black History Month”
features content from Black Entertainment Television, which is celebrating its 16th season on cable, and two magazines published by BET, Emerge, a news magazine, and YSB: The Magazine for Young Sisters and Brothers, a teen publication.
MSN is one of the world’s leading Internet service providers, offering integrated Internet access including an e-mail account, full World Wide Web access (where available) with seamlessly integrated links to popular Web sites, and thousands of Internet newsgroups. MSN also offers dynamic content, including hundreds of special-interest bulletin boards and unique multimedia content such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, home-repair titles, car-buying guides, and up-to-date news and information from the service’s news package, MSN News. The Microsoft Network is available in 50 countries, and access software is localized into 26 languages.
BET Holdings Inc. (NYSE: BTV) is the only publicly traded media company that primarily targets black consumers. Its core business, Black Entertainment Television Inc. (BET), is an advertiser-supported, basic cable television programming service launched in January 1980 that serves as both a cultural center and an information source for BET’s target audience. The BET Cable Network airs a variety of music-video shows, as well as originally produced and syndicated programming, 24 hours a day, to 44.2 million households with cable. (Subscriber counts are Nielsen Home Video estimates from its January 1996 Monthly Universe Estimate.) BET Holdings continues to leverage its brand-name identity into other growing markets, including pay-per-view movies, magazine publishing, direct merchandising, syndication and film production.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.
Microsoft and MSN are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
The Microsoft Network is operated by Microsoft Corp. on behalf of Microsoft Network LLC.
Note to Editors: Editors and reporters who are unable to attend the press conference at BET headquarters but would like to listen to the live event can do so by calling the following numbers:
Noon EST (9 a.m. PST)
Domestic press: (800) 424-9750 (listen only)
International press: (708) 768-8011 (listen only)
In addition, an audio instant replay will begin immediately after the announcement is over and will continue for 24 hours. The phone number for the instant replay both domestically and internationally is (402) 220-6039.
If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft home page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass. To receive Microsoft press releases by fax, please call (800) 859-5915 in the United States or (201) 333-0314 internationally.