The role of social TV in BET's upfronts [videos]

By Natan Edelsburg 

Last night we attended the star-studded BET upfronts in New York. As TV’s largest advertisers and media buyers descended upon the Best Buy Theater in Times Square to see what @BET, with nearly 640,000 Twitter followers had in store for linear and digital for the fall and 2013. BET is no stranger to robust social TV implementations as we saw at the BET Awards last summer and continue to see via 106 and Park, a show that constantly launches trending topics like they’re lines in a script. We spoke with BET’s Director of Social Media JP Lespinasse about the role social TV plays in the upfronts, and we heard both BET Chairman and CEO Debra L. Lee and President of Sales Louis Carr use social TV to prove to their advertisers why BET is the right spend for them.

BET Director of Social Media JP Lespinasse (@djtakefive):

Director of Social Media JP Lespinasse spoke with us before the presentations began and discussed the importance social TV plays in building up excitement around the new programming from the second it was announced at last night’s event. Lespinasse describes how it important it is to use social to begin “seeding,” the different programming and “from an ad sales perspective you’re going to hear a lot about our digital footprint.”

Update: Since the video is a bit difficult to hear, here’s the content: We asked JP to tell us a bit how social media plays a roll at the upfronts. He described how social is being used in two ways:

“Obviously to get the word out about new shows… we have some robust talent, we want to begin seeding that social media engagement with the audience right now.” The second way: “from an ad sales perspective, you’re going to hear a lot in these presentations about our digital footprint, about how its growing, about active engagement… the new things were doing… all of them have a social component, i dont think you would have heard that at upfronts a few years ago.”

BET CEO and Chairman Debra L. Lee:

Lespinasse really meant it when he said we’d be hearing about the digital and social footprints of the network. In her opening remarks Chairman and CEO Debra L. Lee excitingly said, “imagine millions of people tweeting about a premiere episode…that’s BET Networks.”

BET President of Ad Sales, Louis Carr:

During the first half of Carr’s presentation he played a clip that sighted a Trendrr stat that BET was the most social TV network last June. He then went on to describe how devoted they are to providing the best digital environment possible to their viewers. “As a matter-of-fact 106 and Park was the 5th most social TV series in 2011,” Carr proudly told the audience, citing a SocialGuide stat. Watch the full video here:

Kevin Hart, ‘House Husbands,’ and new BET programming:

BET has some compelling programming in the works for the next year. On the social front, Kevin Hart came on stage to present a new mock reality show called “House Husbands” based of a skit he produced when he hosted the BET Awards. Watch the video below where he describes that, “after I got so much love on Twitter and on Facebook,” he started putting together a full show with BET.

In addition to House Husbands, one of the big announcements was DON’T SLEEP! a Daily Show, Colbert Report competitor with award-winning journalist T. J. Holmes (who was on stage presenting also) where he, “gives viewers a great reason to stay up,” late. Holmes will deliver, “smart, biting social commentary on significant issues important to African Americans,” according to the announcement. The show’s already on Twitter and Facebook. Also, Second Generation Wayans a scripted comedy that about the evolution of the hilarious Wayans family. The show also features Fresh Prince’s Tatyana Ali.

On the digital front, 8 Days A Week, their hit series about struggling in Hollywood is returning and Asylum is a new thriller about a hospital for the criminally insane. You can see the full list of their new digital and linear shows here.