After five years with Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, Tyler Perry has landed a deal with Viacom to produce a variety of projects at BET and other Viacom channels.
The five-year deal, which Deadline reported Friday, July 14, will see Perry develop exclusively licensed television series and exclusively distributed video shorts for Viacom and is part of an effort to shift content for the company. Perry, who had free rein to develop films with any distributor after his Lionsgate deal wrapped in 2014, will now give Paramount Pictures exclusive first-look rights.
The film deal starts now, according to Variety, while Perry’s long-term TV deal won’t begin until his absolute overall deal with OWN wraps in May 2019.
“Viacom has a rich tradition of reaching my audience through their TV, film and digital platforms and I am excited to partner with them,” Perry said in a statement to various media outlets. “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.”
“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,” Robert Bakish, the chief executive said in a statement.
According to Richard Greenfield who is a media analyst with BTIG Research, “This is a sign that Shari Redstone and Bob Bakish are here to compete.”
“For too many years,” he went on, “Viacom had underinvested, let their networks lose the edges they’ve had historically and let upstarts like OWN cut into their market share.”
As part of Perry’s deal, he’ll create 90 episodes per year of comedy and drama series, and Deadline reported the agreement is similar to the one he has with OWN, a network he helped make profitable after Winfrey launched it to a slow start in 2008. OWN said Perry’s programs, which currently includes “The Haves And The Have Nots” and will include “The Paynes” in 2018, will continue to air on OWN 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 in a statement to entertainment websites. “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.”
Two of Perry’s other programs that originally ran on TBS already air on BET in syndication: “House Of Payne” and “Meet the Browns.”