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.
APRIL 2013 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live+SD Primetime Ratings Comparison April 2013 vs. April 2012 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
APRIL 2013: Bravo scored its best women 18-49 ratings in over a year this April with W18-49 ratings climbing 12% and W25-54 ratings up by 20% vs. April 2012. The extended post-season REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY specials made the difference, putting the bottom-line ratings over the top.
The post-season of Bravo’s HOUSEWIVES franchise is a bigger star than the regular season. This month there were four reunion and four “first-look” RHONJ episodes, and with encores they took up 24 hours of primetime. That’s more than a quarter of the month’s primetime line-up. With multiple encores, regular season, guest cross-over appearances on WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE, social editions, previews, reunions and lost footage episodes, Bravo is a master at expanding the presence of its successful franchises.
Despite the record audience levels, only two nights grew ratings vs. last year – Sundays and Mondays. They performed so far above the rest of the line-up that they were also the only nights to top the bottom-line primetime Monday – Sunday average. Those two nights featured Bravo staples, REAL HOUSEWIVES of NEW JERSEY and REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ORANGE COUNTY. Bravo used the audience bounce and geographic synergies to help new programs, MARRIED TO MEDICINE and LA SHRINKS. Both programs got double digit bumps vs. last month, primarily due to their strong lead-ins.
DON’T BE TARDY and THE KANDI FACTORY were the featured programs on Tuesday nights. DON’T BE TARDY handily topped MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER, the program it replaced, and KANDI FACTORY, its lead-out. But it was KANDI that was drafted to move to the highly beneficial Sunday 10PM slot, when the REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA finally finished their extended season. As expected, the move gave KANDI’s numbers a nice ratings bounce.
Bravo attempted to build a night themed on fashion on Wednesdays this spring with THE RACHEL ZOE PROJECT, IT’S A BRAD BRAD WORLD and DUKES OF MELROSE. None of the programs were very successful, with RACHEL hitting the best numbers, but still falling below par.
TABATHA TAKES OVER was back on Thursday nights this year, down in core female ratings by a little more than 10% vs. its April 2012 performance. With a lead-in of various REAL HOUSWIVES in their second or third airing, TABATHA managed to hold her own. A better lead-in would help her cause.
Looking ahead, Bravo 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 include the long-promised scripted programming. This marks an impressive 15% increase in original programming for Bravo.