After years without daily news programming, it comes as no surprise that Don’t Sleep with T.J. Holmes is not getting its due with the B.E.T. audience. They announced that they are scaling back the nightly program halfway into the season. The former CNN commentator will go from a nightly 30-minute segment to an hour long weekly program.

Even though there is a rise in customized niche in cable network news, B.E.T. no longer has the reputation or the audience to support “all Black everything.” Once upon a time, the network was the go-to station for anything relevant to African-Americans. In addition to music and video programs like Rap City, B.E.T. featured regular shows like Teen Summit and B.E.T Tonight with Tavis Smiley.

Currently, it maintains a diverse audience of viewers from various economic, age, and racial backgrounds, but they key into the station for staple programming like 106 & Park and reality T.V. fashioned after other Viacom networks. While Holmes does cover some pop culture, the host focuses more on world affairs and national policy.

Some will look at this situation as a justification for BET, VH1, and other networks that run on a steady media diet of “The Real Sports Wives of Single Bad Girls” formula noting Black viewership has spoken with the remote and don’t want quality programming. That would be a grossly inaccurate conclusion that doesn’t factor in the agency of Black viewers who want, and often demand quality shows. Think about the enthusiasm in bringing back one of the best CW network programs, The Game as one example. Now think about everything those same fans felt when the plot and production quality dwindled. People do care about what they watch, but the question is, can they get the right audience before this show gets cancelled? CEO Debra Less says Black folks ask for this type of program but “ … they don’t show up.”

Although there is an audience for Don’t Sleep, I am not sure if B.E.T. has that viewership or knows how to get them tuning back in to the network on a regular basis. They need to strengthen the program and stop trying to be all things all the time. Is this show likened to Jon Stewart or Meet the Press? The network should also consider changing the time to an earlier slot for less competition in late-night entertainment and boutique style news on major networks.

Additionally, what has B.E.T. done to prime its existing viewers to embrace a serious program like this? Considering internet news and social media, what can they do differently to reach out and expand? Last, but not least, what can they to do, and what should they do to reestablish themselves as a network that is more than Top 40’s hip hop and trash talk?

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13 Comments

  1. The show just isn’t that good to begin with. As far as the episodes I saw, T.J. was the best part about watching because he is very handsome. I am going to try watching it again this week, but I don’t know what to expect. I watch shows like this often, but Don’t Sleep hasn’t caught my attention yet.

    • @Le: I completely agree. When the host’s looks are the only thing I’m tuning in for, I know I won’t be watching too much longer

      • @Bad Business: Guest like Issa Rae of Awkward Black Girl have been scheduled for the show. I think if they focus more time on them and others like them who are not at every other news desk and don’t get a great deal of shine but have a good solid fan base and are still a fresh face, then maybe they can stabilize the show. Here’s hoping!

  2. Well, I like the show. The only problem I have is that I forget its on. I am usually watching the 11:00 news. I think the issues are important and interesting. Can I suggest that you move the time to earlier or maybe even 11:30 after the news. Or maybe somewhere close to a more popular show therefore giving it more exposer. I remember certain shows and I make sure I’m watching them at a certain time, ie: Wendy Williams. Or 106 and Park. Those are fairly popular and once a person is already on a station/channel I would think they would be more inclined to continue on that station. Also, can you make it an hour show each night.

    Please don’t cancel this program.

  3. Glad that they are going to an hour. I stopped watching because I was always angry that they didn’t go deeper into their discussions (and stay on topic). How deep can you really get in a 15 minute discussion? Let T.J. be a journalist and ask tough questions, and quit trying to be The Daily Show (and move it from 11pm so I can watch The Daily Show too). Now when is it on?

  4. Tj Holmes is fine but corny as hell and the writing on the show is as equally boring as him. The show was doomed from the outset.

  5. It would be a shame to cancel this show. TJ is more than just a pretty face. He is an extremely intelligent brother with credentials that are hard to achieve and could be an inspiration if given a chance. I agree that one hour is needed but come on! Just one night a week? Is this just BET’s way of phasing this out with the quickness?

    Attn BET – give it a chance! He left CNN and is bringing BET a higher level of programming content that we really need on that station.

    Give it some time and I agree with the previous comment – put it on after one BET’s more successful shows earlier in the evening.

    Or maybe Magic Johnson’s Aspire will give the brother the time he needs to bring it.

  6. Hopefully BET will give this show a chance but it seems like they are setting the show up to fail, cutting the viewing as well as placing it at such a late hour. More advertising needs to be done to support this show!

  7. I’m glad there’s finally an outlet for issues affecting the community, but the production needs to be given a solid lifeline. With a suitable timeslot and the space and time to grow, Don’t Sleep could be very successful. Then again, you can’t force people to appreciate the show for what it is. It isn’t a new The Game, he’s not talking music videos or musicians. He’s talking issues and while a lot of people may not want to hear it, there’s a bunch that do. Keep it on and keep it going.

  8. It’s sad that Don’t Sleep will get canceled, because BET viewers prefer garbage tv to quality.
    BET (Bad Entertainment Television) will continue to be the same head in the sand television.

  9. Please don’t cancel show me and family enjoy and its very much needed.

  10. Just like everyone has said; bet has sat the show to fail. They have a hard time thinking that if it isn’t about music or sports we can’t have a rational thought. Just a mm moment.

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