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Bravo Trumpets Young, Affluent Audience

New York— This upfront season, Bravo is showing off its trend-setting young viewers to advertisers, and bringing its sponsors a third night of original programming.

At a press luncheon last week, Bravo officials said this year they’re focused on the 18-to-49 demographic, rather than the 25-to-54 age group. “We are bringing a younger audience to the network,” Bravo vice president of ad sales Susan Malfa said. “We are going to be out in the marketplace telling that story.”

Bravo also unveiled plans to this summer kick off a new evening of originals on Thursdays, with the launch of a reality series Hey Paula, a fly-on-the-wall program following the life and times of American Idol judge Paula Abdul.

The network already schedules originals in primetime on two nights: docudramas on Tuesdays and reality competition shows on Wednesdays.

Frances Berwick, Bravo’s executive vice president of programming and production, introduced a slate of four additional new shows and announced plans for the network’s first awards special, Bravo Icon Awards, to be held next March in New York.

In addition to Hey Paula, Bravo’s roster of new series includes: Flipping Out, a reality show about Jeff Lewis, a businessman who buys, revamps and resells luxury homes; Welcome to the Parker, which goes behind the scenes at the Parker Palm Springs hotel; Millionaire Matchmaker, about an elite matchmaking service that caters to wealthy men; and First Class All the Way, about a woman who runs a luxury-travel concierge business.

Bravo president Lauren Zalaznick and Malfa said the new ad-sales pitch is that the network’s audience is comprised of “The Affluencers.” Bravo claims it attracts cable’s most educated, affluent and engaged younger viewers — “uber” consumers.

“Bravo offers a very unique audience,” said Malfa, formerly with Court TV. “It is the best-quality, adult 18-to-49 audience in cable. They are affluent. They are influential. They are engaged. … They buy things. They set trends.”

At the presentation, attended by NBC Universal Cable president Jeff Gaspin, Zalaznick touted Bravo’s ratings growth in key demographics during the past year. The network has seen a 22% increase in 2006 versus 2005 in the 18-to-49 demographic in primetime, she said. In the first quarter, Bravo registered a 19% primetime gain in 18-to-49 compared with the year-ago quarter.

A list of returning series includes Top Chef, Project Runway, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List, Inside the Actors Studio, Watch What Happens and Million Dollar Listing.

Bravo spent a good portion of its presentation describing new-media initiatives, both online and with wireless.

For example, saw its page views increase to 361 million last year versus 164 million in 2005, a 120% gain.

Bravo plans to launch its first portal, on the “passion area” of food, this year, said Jason Klarman, Bravo’s executive vice president of marketing and digital.

Top Chef Online’s features will include foodie and drink blogs, as well as a recipe finder.