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Bravo Analysis - November 2009



This is a female-leaning network, but plenty of men show up, too. As much as any network in cable, Bravo has a "feel." It's bright, highly energetic and exudes an urban, upscale, sassy sensibility. The network has kept that vibe from becoming snobbish or off-putting with a winking admission that this is all just good, light, entertaining fun -- and everyone's invited.

The schedule balances original series with Hollywood movies and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, an off-broadcast acquisition. Everything on the network is an hourlong except for movie blocks. In July there were two of these: all of primetime on Friday night and on Saturday, two hours starting at 9pm.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / November 2009 vs. November 2008  (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

A good number of premiers from a handful of series, and the still-hot REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA couldn't quite push Bravo into positive month-to-month territory in November. The network was off HH 4%, with men slightly up and women slightly down. Those numbers aren't disastrous by any means, but consider the list of series with November premiers: REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA, MILLION DOLLAR LISTING, TABATHA'S SALON TAKEOVER, and TOP CHEF. That's gotta be troubling. But Bravo has a record that includes making lemonade from lemons (remember the loss of PROJECT RUNWAY?). And, the year-to-year news was worth a "Bravo!" Compared to November '08 the network is up in Households by 16%, with men growing at more than twice the rate of women. Younger and older men were up 29% and 26%, respectively, while younger and older women each grew by 10%.

The shows. REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA was the best performer, with nothing else breathing down its catty, bronzed, new-rich neck. Its 8 telecasts delivered about 50% above the network's HH average. More than twice as many women as men, in both age groups, watched.

TOP CHEF, with three premiers in its 14 telecasts was the #2 series. Stacked for all of primetime on Wednesday nights the premiers, which batted cleanup, tripled the network HH average. That tactic worked well last month, as well.

REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ORANGE COUNTY (16 telecasts) and LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT (14 telecasts) tied in HH's for third place in November, but they were just barely above average performers. The ladies in OC, the franchise originals, tying with off-network fare. Time marches on.

MILLION DOLLAR LISTING (12 telecasts), TABATHA'S SALON TAKEOVER (6 telecasts) and FLIPPING OUT (3 telecasts) bunched together at about 15% below HH average. The first two series included premiers.

Finally, here's a summary of the network's top twenty November programs, with number of episodes in parentheses. REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA (3) REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ORANGE COUNTY (3), TOP CHEF (3), LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT (6), FLIPPING OUT (1), and MILLION DOLLAR LISTING (4).


Bravo is one of the top ranked networks for upscale viewers across all cable entertainment networks.  They have had numerous records and unprecedented firsts in terms of ratings and most watched programs.  Their programming slate is mainstream.  In addition to a handful of successful reality original series, they are very active in acquiring off-net theatrical movies, series and specials as well.

Unscripted -- competition reality, docu-drama soaps.  They are also developing game shows and talk shows.  In addition to fashion, food, beauty, design and pop culture.

Always looking at big off-network product.


Coming off its best year ever across all metrics in 2008 and kicking off 2009 with its best first quarter ever, Bravo unveiled its biggest slate ever of returning hit shows, series pick-ups and development deals. For the first time, Bravo will expand development into the scripted genre, and that the cabler will be increasing their original programming hours by double digits.

At Bravo's recent upfront, Bravo reveals its biggest roster of series pick-ups, development projects and returning series.  Bravo will also expand its development slate into scripted fare and increasing the numner of original programming hours by double. Bravo counts some 20 new projects in various stages of development, of which a handful will be housed under the network's new "Fashionality" genre.  Bravo, which has built its brand on docusoaps and reality competition shows, is developing two scripted series. These two new series adhere to Bravo's core unscripted programming brand of food, fashion, beauty, design and pop culture.

Bravo's programming strategy success which took them from a small niche channel with a few unscripted shows that generated enough buzz to bring them into a network that now is one of cable's top 20 among adults 18-49. All  their momentum has been driven by their originals.  Bravo's schedule now consists of about 75% programming created for the network.

Bravo has had the ability to create a form of television building where they create a hit show and use it as a departure point to create extensions and brands.  Bravo has also had tremendous success in bolstering their bottom lines by sponsorships on-line and product integration.

Bravo's explosive growth over the past year (2008) has been fueled by their award-winning unscripted originals. They have had almost a 50 percent increase in programming hours, and have been able to broaden their audience. This has been fueled by the successful competition reality genre and docu-dramas, coupled with a trademark line-up of talented, creative and culturally relevant lifestyles and personalities.  This winning competiton has been an instant success for them.

Lifestyle continues to be an important genre and big business for Bravo.  Bravo has a development team which is constantly scouting for talent across its five key areas: food, design, fashion, beauty and popculture.   According to Frances Berwick, executive VP of programming & production there's a fine balance between being entertaining and also having credentials.  "I think an essential facet of lifestyle shows is that you want to be watching a show where the people know what they're talking about.  It's absoutely essentials for us that we use someone who is authentic and credible so the audience buys into what they're doing."  Berwick also says there is definitely an aspirational quality about Bravo's programming and there has to be a layer of drama on top of that.  Experts need to be talented and credible, but they also have to have the colorful personalities that make the viewers want to come back every week.