BET announced Monday that it’s scaling back its much-hyped nightly news roundtable show Don’t Sleep with T.J. Holmes due to low ratings.

The show, which offers a mix of news and entertainment discussions, was BET’s response to audience demands that it incorporate more serious programming on the network.

Despite viewers claiming they wanted more substantive programming, however, Debra Lee, BET’s CEO, said viewers ultimately have not been tuning into a show it demanded.

“We hoped it would have been a Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert-type show,” Lee said. “To be honest, the ratings haven’t been great in the past two weeks. Our audience always says they want this kind of programming, but they don’t show up.”

Don’t Sleep premiered in October to lackluster results, averaging 349,000 viewers a night in the 11 p.m. spot.

Instead of airing for a half hour each night, Don’t Sleep will air for an hour once a week. According to press releases by BET and T.J. Holmes, the new weekly timeslot will allow the program to tackle more in-depth issues.

“We’ve received so many [comments] and so much feedback about our show.  Without question, the #1 comment has been that ‘Don’t Sleep’ is too short,” T.J. Holmes said in a press release.  “[Viewers] felt we needed more time to not only discuss issues but find solutions. I suppose we’ve been doing something right if people have overwhelmingly and consistently been saying that the show should be extended from a half hour to an hour.  So, starting this week, ‘Don’t Sleep’ will do just that.  We will now have an hour-long format to educate, empower, and engage.  This will allow us more time to delve deeper into topics and determine how we can all, in our own way, be agents of change.”

Despite the change, Stephen G. Hill, president of music programming and specials, said the network is still optimistic about the show.

“We are very proud of the show, and the platform it has provided for the nations’ brightest thought leaders,” Hill said. “We love the passion of DON’T SLEEP!’s dedicated audience and hope that the weekly appointment viewing of the show will grow that audience.”

Don’t Sleep will now air on Wednesdays at 11 p.m.

  • Amber

    I know Debra Lee understands that once you lose a significant portion of your audience you can’t just throw on a two-second show with a sexy host (and he is. I love me some TJ) and expect everyone to come running back. The show as it was when it started was horrible. And yes it was too short, especially when you add in two commercial breaks.

    Im optimistic that they can turn this show around so TJ can flex all of his skills that he honed on CNN.

  • November

    They should do it at a good time like Face the Nation. Well, Face the Nation doesn’t come on at a good time for black folks b/c it’s Sunday morning around church time, but I mean it should come on at an hour when people will be sitting in front of the TV like the evening news. I really don’t know why they insist on 11PM. Now when it goes off, it’s midnight. Working folks will just get their news from CNN or NBC News at 5:30 and go to bed.

  • D.T.

    I like me some TJ Holmes so I will not give up on the show. I’m glad they are going to give it an hour. Now they should listen when the viewers say they want an earlier time.

  • K. Michel

    Yeah, it’s short. But as November also said, it’s the time slot. I know it’s billed as a late night show, but I’d have loved to see it replace 106 and Park’s slot for an hour.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    the leadership at BET is the problem……

  • Love Sosa

    it should run as the segment where rap city did. rap city came on right before 106th and park.

    it’s in a prime spot for many people getting home from work and teens getting home from school.

  • AM

    BET, have you not considered the timing of Holme’s show to be outlandish? It would behoove this network’s executives to stop living in denial, and wake up. Simply go back to the drawing board, revist your mission & vision statements-in there somewhere I believe, before you sold out, you were about uplifting a people through entertainment. Additionally, engage with folks and let their disappointments,and criticques of your network, be a springboard for a new creative direction. Instead of blaming your audience, how about sparking a solution(s) based dialogue with them? Hear them out.
    Good luck T.J., AND congratulations on your impending little one’s arrival.

  • Gell0h0h

    I have only watched the show once. I enjoyed it but the time frame came into conflict. Like someone else stated, by the time it is over, it is midnight. With grad school, I can no longer stay up that late anymore. If they would move the time slot and increase the time, it would be a lot easier.

  • Kay

    BET lost me years ago, and it’s insulting to my intelligence that they’d just slap together a show that doesn’t even begin to address the issues surrounding communities of color. But now since most people have stopped drinking the kool-aid they all of a sudden want to “create better programming.” Chile, please. They should have thought about that YEARS ago.

  • http://gravatar.com/lovegiraffes onegirl

    I guess people are supposed to DVR the show. 11pm is way too late for those that work. I don’t know how the other late night shows keep people watching because once I turned 30 (ha ha), I couldn’t stay up that late on a school night.

  • Blue

    The one episode I did watch, I liked it. Though TJ’s monologues are corny imo but the topics are interesting. But I’m not staying up to watch it. It comes on at the time I usually go to bed. If it came on earlier, i would probably watch it more.

  • Erin

    It should come on right after 106 & Park at 7:30pm and they should cut 106 & Park down to 90 min show like it used to be. So it could be more of a nightly news type show. 11pm is too late and a easy to forget timeslot.

  • C

    Yes, I agree with the comments here. 11 pm is way too late, especially if they want young people to watch (most younger adults work or go to school). And for it to be a NEW show, 11 is a bad spot. Yes, people watch Conan and Leno at a late hour but these shows are on more widely watched networks, and they have a dedicated audience who has been established since a million years ago.

  • -A.

    *sigh* if only they would do something sensible, like give Don’t Sleep the prime-time 8 or 9 slot and save the “Blackbuster” films for late night….

  • LeLe

    I rather sleep than watch this show. He should have stayed on CNN.

  • Snag

    They need to bring this show on earlier (9pm maybe)

  • EL

    Hahaha, Blackbuster. Yeah those films are terrible anyway!Im from the UK and barely watched BET cause it was a joke. I was also someone that emailed BET about making the show longer but as all the comments have said, they’ve still missed the crucial point of putting it on earlier.

  • jordan

    They want a Jon Stewart/Colbert type show without a Jon Stewart or Colbert personality
    TJ is a great host, but they should’ve gone with a satirical writer if they wanted that.

  • http://twitter.com/gennatay Gennatay (@gennatay)

    I really enjoy this show. I agree that it should come on earlier. Maybe BET will listen.

  • GlowBelle

    BET needs to stop getting angry at viewers and put a mirror to themselves because they could solve a lot of their problems if they just listened to viewers and thought outside the box for a change. Piggybacking on what others said, it comes on at a real inconvenient time and it is also competing with other late night talk shows that have established audiences. If its a news show it should come on at primetime, right after the terrible and over-long 106 & Park (another show that needs an overhaul).

    Another thing is the aim is all wrong IMO, them going for a Stewart/Colbert-esque show is BET once again shooting themselves in the foot. Holmes (while a cutie) isn’t a comedian-type/satirist guy — why force Holmes to do what he is clearly not and make him do a show that is like two other shows that we are already watching?

  • Yvette

    I don’t understand why they don’t run the show earlier, then repeat it a few hours later?

  • http://gravatar.com/olivhub Olivia

    Right!!!!! they repeat everything else!! Lol

  • http://gravatar.com/olivhub Olivia

    This is a very informational and important show to our culture, how hard is it to realize that it needs to be at an earlier more convient time? I have watched it since the day that it aired and enjoy learning from it, but I have missed a few shows, why? BECAUSE IT COMES ON TO LATE AND I FORGET ABOUT IT BECAUSE IT AIRS AT THE END OF THE DAY! by the time it comes on i’m beyond ready to pass out from a long hard work day. Make those blackbuster movies (lol),come on later and put “Dont sleep” on , we have already seen those movies about 100 times fold because yal air the same ones over and over and over again so why do we need to see them earlier in the day? its pointless!! KEEP THE SHOW, AIR IT EARLIER!!!!

  • LeonieUK

    Being from the UK we clearly are happy it’s a free channel, would you really want to pay for such lackluster shows? BET your international audience is not even happy, get withthe programme and serve your community better.

  • Apple

    The show is probably a good show. Bet is the problem. They have ruined their reputation so much that they could give Jesus a show and it might not do we’ll. I bet If this was tv one it would do well

  • Pink Lipstick

    I agree. The show should come on earlier and invite brighter guests. I attended one of the taping and was thoroughly unimpressed by the breadth of the research the guest speakers had done prior to coming to the show. I fully stand behind the premise of the show,and I also recognize that the show has the potential to be great.

  • Egypt

    BET’s reputation/image is often associated with the hip hop culture. I admire the change, but I believe the damage has already been done. Actually, the damage was done, long before BET was ever sold to Viacom.

  • Child, Please

    How is time an issue when most local news stations have their time slots between 10 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.? Do people not watch their local news that late either? It kind of makes me wonder what the ratings are for different stations now that people say the time slot is too late for them.

  • Mademoiselle

    Even if I had cable, I’d likely fall into deep sleep on the couch long before the show aired. I wake up at 5:30 am to get ready for work. Staying up until midnight because BET is too selfish, short-sighted, and out of touch to take into consideration the typical lifestyle of their target markets won’t ever become reason enough for me to be less than energized for a full day’s work. It’s not like BET would reimburse me if my productivity waned over this show. I bet Debra doesn’t even stay up to watch this show. And the laughable part of it is her response to lackluster ratings is to stuff the show on the most forgettable day of the week at the same awful time. She might as well take it off the air right now.

  • http://cupofjo-jo.blogspot.com bk chick

    You know I wouldn’t be surprised if one day I woke up and heard “BET no longer in existence due to extremely low ratings from target audience” This sounds like some clever shit they’re pulling: Pretend to make some shows that cater to it’s base, knowing full well they are putting said shows in bad time slots or coming up with mediocre scripts, just to find an excuse to cancel the channel altogether without the network itself being blamed. I’m not usually a conspiracy theorist but something doesn’t seem right with BET’s so called “efforts.” If I’m wrong, then the Debra Lee needs to go because she clearly doesn’t know how to woo her target audience.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    This! The time slot sucks because again it is too late for some or conflict with local news for others. I think right after 106 and Park would be a great time slot for this show.

  • Mademoiselle

    I can’t find detailed numbers, but here are a couple sites that piece together the story:

    http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/evening-news-ratings-week-of-october-22_b152561
    http://talkshownews.interbridge.com/2009/05/late-night-ratings-gains-for-craig.html

    It looks like viewership drops from 8-9MM viewers during the evening news (9 & 10pm) shows to 2-4MM during the late night talk shows (11pm & 12am)

  • Fantastico

    Wow way to blame the audience. The time slot is way too late and when the show first started it was too short. Listen to the audience you want to court, or you will continue to fail.

  • Fantastico

    Agreed. On one of his first episodes he had a guest on that offered nothing intellectually. Then as a show warming gift she gave him a wig (from her line) for his wife.

    Note to BET don’t have guests on unless they offer something substantive and appropriate for the show.

  • EasilyForgotten

    Why not put his show on Centric or TvOne?

  • JB

    People didn’t have a problem staying up to watch “BET Uncut” at 3 or 4am. “Comic View” was also a popular show that aired at a late time slot. So, this was a weak attempt at progress by BET. If they want ratings, they should let a comedian, like Paul Mooney or Chris Rock, host the show.

  • justanotheropinion

    Debra Lee needs to check herself. After years of providing nothing but T & A, you throw a decent show out there and you want the Black World to fall at your feet and give you props – GTFOH. Love the way to blame the audience for your lack of taste an responsibility. Takes more than one little show to prove that the tide has turned (no diss to TJ Holmes). On a personal note, I’d def at least check out the show if it was on at a reasonable time. Reasonable folks are in bed around the time you’ve decided to show “the new you”. Just one more reason to take a pass on BET.

  • Child, Please

    Okay, thanks! I was wondering what was going on; I know there are some that stay up and look at the news in Atlanta that late (I’m one of them) and I also look at the 11:35 showing of Nightline (I’m a news junkie!). It’s part of the reason I don’t watch Don’t Sleep. I guess a good lead in for it would be 106 & Park, but their ratings have slipped since due to the switching of hosts.

  • Sweetaspie31

    I knew this show would not do well…SMH.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    i recorded the show on my DVR and i will look at it when i want to……

  • Family guy

    The particular audience base of the black community that still watches BET is not interested in intelligent or serious talk. They have moved on to TVONE or other black networks.

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  • Tina

    I sent an email to BET requesting a reasonable air time. Let us call them out because Debra Lee sure did not waste a second to call out viewers. We need to take our comments and send them to BET, and hopefully, they will decide to give us a real solution because extending the show to an hour in the middle of the week is set-up for failure.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    if you have a DVR air time does not matter….

  • D

    LOL at everyone saying it should come on earlier. BET Uncut (uncensored booty poppin’ music videos) used to come on at 3 a.m. and probably had quadruple the ratings of this show. Black America doesn’t just drop into a slumber at 11. All those black folks up at 11 p.m. are watching something and lots of other channels manage to get ratings then so the time slot is not the problem. It’s the show (corny) or the viewership (uninterested).

  • isola

    I tried watching this show once and I thought it was boring. I can’t even remember who the guests were.

  • V

    What a shame- I am actually a faithful viewer. BET’s core audience isn’t ready…Guess we need more booty poppin.

  • Jeni

    First impressions are everything. I get what they are trying to do, but I tuned in for a few seconds, and felt like the program talked down to the audience, as if the host were over-explaining issues for less-intelligent viewers. I also remember seeing a line-up of the roundtable selected to discuss issues for a particular night, and being unimpressed at the quality.

  • Misshightower

    Excellent comments AM,but then when has Deborah Lee and her minions ever been sensitive to the best interests, wants, needs, of her supposed target audience? She has a talented jewel in TJ and let’s all hope that he will take steps to put ensure that his career,best interests, and the audience he truly loves are well-served BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!

  • jourdan

    Wow I had no clue the ratings were low! I watch this show faithfully! So do most of my family & friends… Sorry, BET idk what the problem is! I love it personally

  • Tina

    If I am up at 11pm, it is definitely not to watch television.

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