Perhaps more than any other 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. And though that's mostly work accomplished in development, production and post efforts, it's also a scheduling strategy. There's almost never a show on Bravo's air that feels out of place. So, even though they stack very heavily, a viewer watching at, say, 9pm every night, will see a different program each day, but still feel very much a Bravo viewer.
Bravo defines and schedules its programming around themes of food, fashion, beauty, design and pop culture, and plans to add digital themed program in the upcoming season.
APRIL 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live+SD Primetime Ratings Comparison April 2012 vs. April 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
APRIL 2012: Bravo posted some much-needed ratings gains this month, with average women 18-49 primetime ratings up by 7% vs. last month and by 14% vs. last year. What turned things around? Basically, the HOUSEWIVES (not TABATHA) took over.
The REAL HOUSEWIVES and their spin-offs could be found nearly every night of the week. By this analyst’s count, of the 105 hours comprising Bravo’s primetime this April, 53% of them were dedicated to the HOUSWIVES and their associates. ATLANTA with 21 hours (including specials) and OC with 22 hours each posted enough air-time to run for an entire week. Rounding out the invasion were NEW JERSEY with six hours, and spin-offs BETHENNY EVER AFTER (5 hours) and DON’T BE TARDY FOR THE WEDDING (3 hours). For those who are counting, that is 57 primetime hours of HOUSEWIVES & CO, leaving 48 hours to other fare. Nearly half of that time was filled with movies, which left just 5 hours per week for non-HOUSEWIFE, non-theatrical programming.
The HOUSEWIVES are ratings power-houses, and The ATLANTA reunion was the hands-down leader. The three-part after-party topped the charts. The reunion episodes were also the most time-shifted program on Bravo this month. They helped boost Sunday nights to 7% growth vs. last month and an impressive 79% growth vs. last year. Sunday’s performance is consistently well above the rest of the week, more than doubling the primetime average. This is clearly where the best and brightest of Bravo lands.
The most coveted timeslot of the week is Sunday night at 10PM, where programs are sure to get a big lead-in from those ubiquitous REAL HOUSEWIVES. This month The REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA helped both THE SHAHS OF SUNSET and the new season of REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NJ. SHAHS lost almost half of its lead-in audience, but was still an above-average performer. It was floated within the mid-week encore rotation a couple of times, and was able to hold. It will be coming back for another season. NJ was off to a strong start, and was the best-rated program in April after the ATLANTA reunions.
Monday’s encores performed below par, but BETHENNY picked up the pace at 10PM. The program was off to a slow start last month, but it grabbed core women 18-49 ratings that were 76% better this month and 10% better than last year. Even better, viewers got hooked and ratings went up with each successive week.
Tuesday is the only other night of the week (besides Sundays) to pull above average ratings. This time it is the HOUSEWIVES OF OC that bring it, with ratings 9% above last month and 7% above last year. TABATHA TAKES OVER was strong in March, but fell down 12% this April, performing just above the primetime average.
Wednesdays were given over to high-end nesting programming, although the folks at Bravo added in THE HOUSEWIVES OF OC in the second half of the month to give the night a needed boost. INTERIOR THERAPY WITH JEFF LEWIS underperforms the network average, and MILLION DOLLAR LISTING NY comes in even lower. However, MILLION DOLLAR LISTING picked up steam in May, or at least that’s what Bravo claimed when it announced its renewal. MILLION DOLLAR LISTING LA’s fifth season premieres in June.
Thursdays started off slow with an inconsistent mix of encore programming, but new programs KATHY and HOUSEWIVES’ spin-off DON’T BE TARDY FOR THE WEDDING were added to the mix, and things picked up. TARDY is one of Bravo’s few half-hour shows; look for more in the future, especially if TARDY works out. It had a strong start on its debut night, and immediately got the Bravo treatment, maximizing its on-air presence and visibility with two more encores in the same week. KATHY was off to a slower start; audiences need to find it among the HOUSEWIVES.
Friday and Saturday are still filled with unexceptional encores and movies, bringing in the lowest numbers of the week. With announcements for 27% more programming in the upcoming season, maybe Bravo’s attention will turn to the end of the week next year.