Black Entertainment Television (BET) has been in existence for 27 years and has grown exponentially since its inception. What started as a a weekly, two-hour Friday night block airing at midnight on USA has blown into a fully fledged network, now a part of big bad media behemoth, Viacom.

In keeping pace with the changing trends of internet broadband programming, BET’s taken a cue from Pepsi and Yahoo!’s The 9 (Tilzy.TV page), and created an online presence for The 5ive. Premiering last month on BET, The 5ive is a three-times-weekly half-hour TV show that counts up “the most talked about and desired people, places, events, gadgets, and websites.” On The 5ive website, all the shows are archived and the episodes are broken down by story for easy, on-demand, viewer-guided viewing.

The 9’s host is the ever-cute-and-bubbly Maria Sansone – an ESPN contributor and former MTVU VJ who’s been a TV reporter since she was 11. The 5ive’s got the hip and stylish Alesha Renee – former host of BET’s Hot Wyred that was discovered among 15,000 hopefuls in BET’s 2006 “New Faces” talent search. In front of a Pepsi background, The 9 gives a quick rundown of celebrity happenings, viral videos, internet buzz, and at least a couple plugs for Yahoo!. Between ads for fast food chains, insurance agencies, and other conglomerates, The 5ive offers a balanced selection of comedy, trends, and news that are more in-depth and substantive.

The site hooked me with its first clip from the July 17 show, an interview with Minister Louis Farrakhan. Although the man can be a bit of an extremist at times, it’s always interesting to hear the leader of the Nation of Islam speak. Next up is an installment of the animated series BUFU – a self-referrential play on FUBU that mocks celebrities, music videos, and pop culture. It’s a clever yang to Farrakhan’s seriously monotone ying.

There are also clips for Las Vegas and music video director Little X’s clothing line X-fit, which are both informative but are a reminder of the site’s expected commercial components. Still, with other short films on the rise of DipSkate and designer sneaker shops, the potential this vehicle holds for BET is massive. It could help the network gain fresh, new viewers for their online programming, without having to go overseas.

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