MSBET Launches Urban Express, the Search Engine or the Urban Consumer

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 2, 1999 — MSBET, the joint venture between Microsoft Corp. and Black Entertainment Television Inc. (BET), today announced the launch of Urban Express, the search engine for black and urban Internet sites. Simultaneously, in celebration of the history and culture of African-Americans, MSBET presents its
“Hands Across the Net: The Best of African-Americans in Cyberspace”
Black History Month campaign, providing links to Web sites with Black History Month content.

Urban Express is a key element of the redesign of the MSBET Web site, urban America’s premier online discovery vehicle, located at . Urban Express is a Web directory containing a search engine and lists of annotated, rated and editorially reviewed links to sites of interest to African-American and urban-conscious consumers. It operates in a channel format that provides access to information on music, health and news, and BET programming such as Rap City, Planet Groove, BET Tonight and Heart & Soul Magazine.

With Urban Express, users can search the carefully indexed database by keyword, URL, topic, review, editorial or title. A comprehensive system of categories and subcategories helps users narrow the vast selection of Internet resources. MSBET is inviting webmasters to submit their sites to Urban Express for inclusion. This feature is easily discoverable on the Reference channel of MSBET. The bottom line is that when users go to MSBET, they leave with results.

“We are pleased to unveil this new Internet tool during Black History Month,”
said Robert L. Johnson, founder, chairman and CEO of BET Holdings Inc.
“Every feature of this site’s layout is designed to help users find information on African-Americans in the shortest amount of time, whether it’s a list of African-American businesses, a specific Web community or scholarship information. The ‘Hands Across the Net’ campaign is a tremendous display of solidarity, providing a centralized page enabling visitors to find most of the online content celebrating Black History Month on one page.”

Throughout the month of February, the
“Hands Across the Net: The Best of African-Americans in Cyberspace”
Web page, located at , will feature links to Internet sites that are both informative about and celebratory of African-American history. Each of the participating sites will feature an icon that will serve as a link back to the
“Hands Across the Net” Web page. A site-of-the-day feature, in which sites will be profiled for their Black History Month content, will also be included. Interactive features and articles with links to Microsoft® Encarta® Africana will reside in MSBET’s Black History Month content.

In addition, MSBET will host the official site for the 1999 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards, scheduled for Feb. 14, 1999. It will include special editorial features on the award nominees as well as photographs of and interviews with the winners on the night of the awards.

“This is a tremendous display of solidarity for Black History Month,”
said Sandi Thomas, COO of MSBET.
“MSBET is playing a leadership role in making Black History Month easily discoverable for viewers interested in African-American and urban culture.”

Based in Washington, D.C., MSBET is a joint venture of BET Holdings Inc., the pre-eminent media-entertainment company reaching the black consumer, and Microsoft Corp., the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. Since forming in 1996, MSBET has delivered a unique format of entertainment and information through a broad range of interactive online events and programming targeting African-American consumers.

BET Holdings Inc. is a multimedia entertainment company that owns and operates Black Entertainment Television. The first national cable network targeted toward African-American consumers, BET is currently available in more than 55 million households with cable nationwide, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Recently recognized as one of America’s best small companies by Forbes Magazine, BET Holdings owns and operates several affiliates and ventures, including Black Entertainment Television; BET on Jazz: The Cable Jazz Channel; BET Movies/STARZ!3; BET International Inc.; BET Design Studio; BET Action Pay-Per-View; Emerge, Heart & Soul and BET Weekend magazines; Arabesque Books; BET Financial Services; BET SoundStage restaurant; BET SoundStage Club; and the BET on Jazz restaurant.

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 Encarta are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

MSBET Fact Sheet

Who We Are

MSBET is the joint venture between Black Entertainment Television Inc., the pre-eminent media-entertainment company reaching the black consumer, and Microsoft Corp., the world leader in software for personal computers. Since forming in 1996, MSBET has delivered a unique format of entertainment and information through a broad range of interactive online events and programming targeting African-American and urban-conscious consumers.

Site Description

MSBET is the leading Web site for information about and of interest to the African-American and urban-conscious cyber-community. MSBET is a 24-hour news, entertainment and information Internet service. Serving over 6 million pages monthly, it is the largest African-American-oriented site on the Internet. On Feb. 1, 1999, it launched its new portal site for African-Americans.

Audience Overview

MSBET attracts primarily younger (8-35) women with a moderate income*. Eighty percent of MSBET viewers own their own PC, and 55 percent log on from home.


  • 71.5 percent female

  • 28.5 percent male


  • Interested in issues and opportunities pertaining to the African-American community

  • Enjoy and participate in the MSBET community through active chat rooms and bulletin boards

  • Visit the site frequently (average 2.2 times a week)

MSBET site statistics

  • Over 300,000 unique users monthly

  • Over 6 million banners served monthly

  • 6 million page views monthly

  • 25 percent average monthly traffic increase rate since January 1997

Main attractions

  • Home page

  • Neighborhood – Chats

  • News – News of particular interest to African-Americans

  • Planet Groove – Rhythm and blues music

  • Rap City – Rap and hip hop music

MSBET Channels

  • Music – Rap City, Planet Groove and BET on Jazz

  • News – BET Tonight and Emerge magazine

  • Entertainment – BET Weekend, Emerge, BET Movies

  • Community and People – Chats

  • Reference and Urban Express – Afro-centric Web directory and search engine

  • Career and Finance – Career builder job posting, BET Real Business

  • Health – Heart & Soul, BET’s health, fitness and beauty magazine

  • Teen – Teen Summit

  • Book Channel – Buy the Book, Arabesque Books

  • Shopping

*The findings in this fact sheet come from a study done Nov. 13, 1998.

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