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.
At the 2013 Real Screen Summit, Shari Levine, SVP of current productions, revealed the recipe for success for HOUSEWIVES; five to six over-the-top, unapologetic women, with fabulous homes, families and a cute pet. She also addressed the version set in DC, which only lasted one season. “Although it was an interesting first season, there was a sense of no place to go. Their numbers were pretty good, but it wasn’t a buzzy show.”
Bravo defines and schedules its programming around themes of food, fashion, beauty, design and pop culture. The network tends to front-load its heavy hitters, scheduling the best-rated programming on Sunday and Monday nights.
MARCH 2013 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live+SD Primetime Ratings Comparison March 2013 vs. March 2012 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
MARCH 2013: Another great month for Bravo as the network bulks up its programming slate and its bottom-line ratings. Average primetime ratings were not as high as their peak in January, but they were close, only .01 behind on core women 18-49. Compared to last year the numbers are pacing 17% ahead on women 18-49 and 19% ahead on women 25-54. Women 18-49 ratings are up vs. last month by 21%.
Bravo’s heavy-hitters are front loaded at the beginning of the week on Sunday and Monday nights. That’s when the REAL HOUSEWIVES come out to play. This month the ladies of ATLANTA were the stars on Sunday nights, pulling the best numbers on the line-up and improving last year’s ratings performance by 14% among women 18-49. Sundays also saw the SHAHS OF SUNSET finish out its post-season with a reunion episode and a lost footage special, capping off a very respectable second season. MARRIED TO MEDICINE was up next, strong out of the gate but losing a lot of viewers in its second outing. The show is described as “new docu-series following the lives of six of Atlanta's most dynamic and successful women, including doctors and wives of doctors, as they juggle bustling careers, family, and social calendars.” While not technically a REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA spin-off, the focus and the leads are not far off. The show has gotten some flack from the medical profession, but its future lies in the hands of the Bravo viewers.
Mondays were anchored by the REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS, who enjoyed a strong season finale, and improved ratings vs. last month. VANDERPUMP RULES also finished out its post-season reunions this month with improved ratings over last month. The two programs helped launch LA SHRINKS, which underperformed average, but did build audience as the month progressed.
Sunday and Monday night ratings were so strong that no other night of the week was able to top the bottom-line primetime average. Tuesday came close however, with a revitalized MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER running in three hour stacks.
Wednesdays saw the finale of TOP CHEF in the first week of the month. This was not the program’s best season, but it was strong enough to get a renewal for a season 11. The night shifted from food to fashion as RACHEL ZOE PROJECT, spin-off IT’S A BRAD, BRAD WORLD and newcomer DUKES OF MELROSE took over. While the programs are a good fit content-wise, the trio dropped audience through the evening instead of building momentum. Audience levels for the night got progressively worse with each successive week. DUKES OF MELROSE was one of the lowest rated programs on the schedule. Anchor program RACHEL ZOE wasn’t on the air last year; it might take a while for this line-up to catch on.
Thursday through Saturday nights are currently programmed with encores, mini-marathons and theatricals. They are the lowest rated nights of the week, but also fertile ground in which to grow new programs.
Which is a good thing, because Bravo just announced an impressive new line-up for the upcoming season, including 17 new programs in addition to 18 returning unscripted shows. The programs continue in the same vein of guilty-pleasure television, and also include the long-promised scripted programming. This marks an impressive 15% increase in original programming for Bravo.
TABATHA TAKES OVER , season 5
DON’T BE TARDY, season 2
THE KANDI FACTORY, season 1