DECEMBER 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
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. And... though that's mostly work accomplished in development, production and post efforts, it's also a scheduling strategy. With the possible exception of the off-network drama LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT, 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. The schedule balances original series with Hollywood movies and off-network drama. Hourlong programs dominate.
DECEMBER 2009 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / December 2009 vs. December 2008 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Well, last month Bravo could have found some comfort by noting that strong yearly numbers were more important than a slight loss month-to-month. In December, however, the disappointing numbers were widespread. Compared to November, every category was down: HH -6%, younger and older women both down 11%, and younger and older men were off 14% and 13%, respectively. Year-to-year, women were up very slightly and younger and older men were down 14% and 13%, respectively. That's a very rough month.
Bravo's three brightest December lights shined from familiar territories: the kitchen, sunny California and the crimeier/grimer corners of the American justice system. TOP CHEF (11 telecasts), REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ORANGE COUNTY (14 telecasts) and LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT (12 telecasts) did the bulk of the network's above average heavy lifting. TOP CHEF did just under 10% better than the other two. The California women drew about three times as many female viewers as males, while TOP CHEF and LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT delivered a roughly 2:1 female to male ratio.
MILLION DOLLAR LISTING, with six outings was next, but it was slightly below the network HH average. Men were a little above average, women a tad below average.
TABATHA'S SALON TAKEOVER, which got heavy play (11 telecasts) in a Tuesday night stack was almost 15% below Bravo's HH average, with the pain spread pretty evenly among all demos.
The top twenty telecasts of the month holds some interesting nuggets. Parts One and Two of the TOP CHEF season finale - aired a week apart - more than tripled the network HH average. And three episodes of REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ORANGE COUNTY rounded out December's top five telecasts, each of them more than doubling the HH average. No other telecasts in the entire month did better than 50% above HH average. Here's the entire top 20 list, with # of telecasts in parentheses: TOP CHEF (5), REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ORANGE COUNTY (4), MILLION DOLLAR LISTING (2), LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT ( 6), REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA (1) and TABATHA'S SALON TAKEOVER (2).
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
Bravo is as good as any network at banging on all cylinders. Watching this network, you get the a real sense of place, of Bravo being a destination for a viewer who thinks of herself as saavy and hip. But Bravo might be this year's TLC - where last year TLC's schedule was thrown into disarray through both the wild success (and overuse) JON & KATE PLUS 8, Bravo is presently drawing very heavily form the HOUSEWIVES OF franchise. Orange County, Atlanta, New Jersey now... Washington, DC on the way. When you think about Bravo, think about what will draw the same kind of viewer who tunes in for HOUSEWIVES OF. It's going to be in the schedule for the foreseeable future, so they'll need programs to compliment it. And, think about the next new franchise for them, because this one's in an extremely heavy rotation. It may last, or it may reach critical mass and slid this year. No way to know, but help the good folks at Bravo prepare, either way.