Black Entertainment Television, commonly abbreviated as BET, launched in 1980 as a block of programming aimed at African American audiences. BET was not originally an independent channel; it was instead a block of music videos and sitcoms that aired for two hours each week on the Nickelodeon cable channel. BET debuted as its own cable channel in 1983 and has since expanded to encompass a number of spin-off channels, each with its unique niche focus.
Having come in age in the era of the music video, BET's identity has always included a substantial amount of music. Original series that spotlighted jazz, hip hop and gospel were popular part of the channel's schedule, and music-focused programming was a focus of several of the BET spin-off channels.
News and public affairs have also been a prominent part of BET's programming. Comedy and syndicated sitcoms fill out the schedule, and much of the channel's original programming is in the form of reality series such as "Real Husbands of Hollywood," although original comedy series like "Let's Stay Together" have also had successful runs on the channel.