2003 BET Awards Rocket to Biggest BET Telecast Ever


Celebration of Music, Sports and Acting Rewrites Network Record Books With 5.5 million Viewers; Topples Famed O.J. Simpson Interview from Top Spot

2003 BET Awards Rocket to Biggest BET Telecast Ever
Celebration of Music, Sports and Acting Rewrites Network Record Books With 5.5 million Viewers; Topples Famed O.J. Simpson Interview from Top Spot

As rave reviews roll in, one important stakeholder for BET has spoken loud and clear about Tuesday night's 3RD ANNUAL BET AWARDS -- the fans. BET shattered the network's all-time marks for viewership as the awards telecast scored a 4.3 rating, which translates into a whopping 3.2 million households and 5.5 million viewers. Those household and viewer tallies are the best in BET's 23-year history and surpass the previous all-time best, a 1996 telecast of an exclusive interview with O. J. Simpson following his murder acquittal (3.1 million households; 4.2 million viewers). This year's salute to African-American greatness in music, sports and acting gets its first encore showings on Tuesday, July 8 and Thursday, July 10 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

"For us, this is the ultimate validation for the biggest African-American awards show on television," said BET President and Chief Operating Officer Debra Lee. "There was so much hard work and love poured into this show by the BET staff and Cossette Productions. For our fans to respond in record numbers clearly shows that they love what we do, and underscores the fact that BET is the Number 1 destination for African Americans of all ages."

This year's impressive performance represents a 25% jump in viewership for the BET Awards show compared to 2002. Of the 5.5 million viewers tuning in, 53% (2.9 million viewers) were adults age 25 and over. The network also secured an all-time high in viewership of any BET telecast by the broader demographic range of adults ages 18-49 (3.4 million viewers), which accounted for 61% of viewers watching the Tuesday evening special.

BET televised its first-ever awards show in 2001 from Las Vegas. That debut drew a 4.3 rating (2.8 million households and 5.2 million viewers). After moving to Hollywood last year and signing a multi-year deal with the Kodak Theatre, also home of the Academy Awards, the BET Awards captured 2.9 million households and 4.4 million viewers (4.0 rating) for the 2002 version.

Live pre-show and post-show specials in 2003 also fared well as 106 & PARK: Live from the Red Carpet netted a 1.6 rating (1.2 million households, 1.6 million viewers); and BET NIGHTLY NEWS' awards show wrap-up special hosted by Jacque Reid received a 2.5 rating (1.9 million households, 2.7 million viewers).

Hip-Hop sensation 50 Cent led a night peppered with first-time winners and repeat champions at the 2003 BET Awards, claiming both Best Male Hip-Hop Artist and Best New Artist categories. James Brown, "The Godfather of Soul," and basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson also took center stage as they were awarded BET's Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian Awards respectively. Among the many show-stopping performances, the crowd-pleaser of the night was a surprise walk-on of the "King of Pop" himself, Michael Jackson, as part of the James Brown tribute.


BET, a subsidiary of Viacom, is the nation's leading television network providing quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs programming for the African-American audience. The BET Network reaches more than 75 million households according to Nielsen media research. BET is a dominant consumer brand in the urban marketplace with a diverse group of branded businesses: BET.com, the No. 1 Internet portal for African-Americans; BET Digital Networks -- BET Jazz, BET Gospel and BET Hip-Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Event Productions, specializing in a full range of event production services, including event management, venue selection, talent recruitment, sound, lighting and stage production; and BET Books, the nation's leading publisher of African-American themed romance novels under the Arabesque Books label, and publisher of new imprints Sepia and New Spirit.

CONTACT: Michael Lewellen, +1-202-608-2003, [email protected]; or
Tosha Whitten-Griggs, +1-404-763-8656, [email protected], both of
BET (Black Entertainment Television)


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