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. 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. Hourlong programs dominate for now, but look for half hour programs in the future.
OCTOBER 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison October 2011 vs. October 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
OCTOBER 2011: Bravo took minimal losses on its target women viewers this month, dropping just 6% of women 18-49 ratings and gaining 2% among women 25-54 vs. last year. Bravo is effectively playing a shell game, moving its most successful programming franchise (REAL HOUSEWIVES) to its lowest rated night of the week (Sunday). However, any substantial steps forward were reversed by the lackluster performance of the remaining weeknights.
There was minimal bottom-line movement vs. last month’s performance as well, but there were double-digit changes on nearly every night of the week. While Sunday and Monday saw solid gains, the Tuesday through Saturday line-ups dropped between 10% and 33% of female ratings.
The REAL HOUSEWIVES franchise is holding up Sunday and Monday nights. This month BEVERLY HILLS and NEW JERSEY were in the rotation, last year it was BEVERLY HILS and ATLANTA. BEVERLY HILLS is off by about 10% vs. last year’s performance, while this year’s NEW JERSEY performance is outpacing last year’s ATLANTA. MOST ELIGIBLE DALLAS represents the new generation of HOUSEWIVES, with its younger, wilder and still single cast, and a premiere night on Mondays at 10PM following BEVERLY HILLS. The average program rating for DALLAS is better than the HOUSEWIVES, but that is because DALLAS receives only one run per week – no encores at all. The magic of the HOUSEWIVES is their success in rerunning throughout the schedule, boosting other programming and getting viewers to stick around for hours-long catch-up marathons. Case in point, BEVERLY HILLS aired five new episodes this month and ran a total of 23 times. Which brings us to our last note about the HOUSEWIVES before we move on. They accounted for 43 hours of programming this month; slightly more than 40% of the primetime schedule.
What was happening with the other 60%? Bravo’s other genres: food; fashion, matchmaking and art. This month the food genre was represented by TOP CHEF JUST DESSERTS in its second season. The program is holding up vs. both last month’s and last year’s performances, but again the lack of encore telecasts is helping the average. On the positive side, JUST DESSERTS improved upon its lead-in every week.
The fashion genre ran on Tuesday nights, and consisted of RACHEL ZOE PROJECT in its fourth season, and new programs MAD FASHION, featuring Chris March and FASHION HUNTERS, which is the fashion consignment version of HARCORE PAWN, and in the vein of the plethora of treasure hunting shows out there in the cable world of Tuesday nights. Bravo’s Tuesday night women ratings are down by about 10% vs. last year and 20% vs. last month. All three programs perform slightly below the primetime average rating. We can’t bring up fashion on Bravo without mentioning ifs first foray into fashion, PROJECT RUNWAY. That program plus a handful of spin-offs are running across the way at Lifetime, and while it is getting ratings well below its Bravo performance of years past, it is still garnering audiences about double the size of Bravo’s current roster of fashion programming.
The art genre is represented by WORK OF ART, the competition series for artists. The program is in its second season, but its ratings are well below Bravo-par, and it consistently loses audience from its lead-in program, doing some damage to Wednesday nights.
MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER dominates Thursday nights – it is the only program outside the HOUSEWIVES franchise that runs encores. But in the last three weeks of the month there were only encores in play, and ratings dropped accordingly.
So while Bravo held its own this month, it is still highly dependent on the HOUSEWIVES genre. TOP CHEF is another marquee program should help out ratings in the coming months, but Bravo is definitely in need of something more.