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.