Johnson created the first and only cable television station with programming for and about black Americans. Though he struggled to gain a subscriber base in the early eighties, Johnson persevered and built a viable enterprise. When he took the company public in 1991, it was the first black-owned firm to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange. With the capital infusion from the public offering, Johnson expanded his business operations – moving into film production, publishing, and new programming. By the end of the nineties, BET was reaching over 40 million households. Johnson sold BET to Viacom in 2001 for $3 billion.