SEPTEMBER 2011 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
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.
SEPTEMBER 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison September 2011 vs. September 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
SEPTEMBER 2011: After pacing behind last year for most of the summer, Bravo caught up to 2010’s numbers this September, with primetime women 18-49 ratings coming in just 2% lower rhan last year. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights continued to take significant hits vs. last year, but the bottom line was rescued with much improved performances on Sundays and Fridays.
The programming move with the biggest impact was the Sunday night ousting of off-net dramas LAW & ORDER: CI and HOUSE in favor of the REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY. In its third season, New Jersey housewives are topping Orange County, Beverly Hills New York City and DC housewives. New Jersey helped triple the Sunday night numbers. On average, the program’s September 2011 core women ratings are 14% above the September 2010 ratings. This year’s season finale handily topped the season two finale, but couldn’t top last year’s hair-pulling reunion. (Another dramatic development from last season was the exit of Dina Mazzo. She left the Housewives and the network, and can now be found down the dial on HGTV.)
Sunday night’s gain was Monday night’s loss, as THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS couldn’t keep pace with last year’s REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY. The dubious yet plentiful publicity surrounding the show helped boost it near NJ levels in the first week, but ratings fell quickly in the next few weeks. Following BEVERLY HILLS was new program, MOST ELIGIBLE DALLAS, the next generation in the housewives series. (Bravo has publicly promised not to start any new REAL HOUSEWIVES spin-offs.) MOST ELIGIBLE DALLAS follows the high-life of a group of single Dallas socialites, thereby creating.a younger and more dramatic setting for a reality series. So far the ratings are promising, above the ptimetime average and REAL HOUSEWIVES encores, but well below REAL HOUSEWIVES premieres.
On Tuesdays, FLIPPING OUT and RACHEL ZOE dominated the night. ,FLIPPING OUT kept its momentum this month, topping August’s performance by 11% and last year’s by 6^. RACHEL ZOE predictably improved vs. last month’s repeats but lost 16% of women vs. last year. Overall, Tuesdays held ground vs. last year, with 2% growth on women 18-49.
TOP CHEF JUST DESSERTS just isn’t cutting it vs. tentpole program TOP CHEF, which was on the air last year and pulling in much bigger numbers. The network has been cutting back on encores of JUST DESSERTS as numbers continue to fall, and the night is now muddled with BEVERLY HILLS and other encores. TOP CHEF returns in November. Will the foodies remember to tune in to Bravo on Wednesdays or have they moved on? Last year’s reunion series was the best-rated to date, holding a double advantage of familiar “cheftestants” and momentum gained from a premiere date that came soon after the previous season’s finale.
MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER runs alone on Thursday nights and while it showed 15$ improvement vs. last month, it fell 25% vs. last year’s REAL HOUSEWIVES OF DC.
Friday and Saturday host blockbuster movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure, titles that pull in literally millions of viewers on sister net USA. However, they do not play well with the Bravo viewer, and Friday and Saturday are the lowest rated nights of the week. When MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER or REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS run as a lead-in or lead-out (or filler program) to the movies, they almost always pull in better numbers.
Bravo is usually as good as any network at banging on all cylinders.The network’s original fare and unique branding have set up an environment where original programs thrive without movie lead-ins required by many competitors. But the network needs to work hard to keep the programming fresh. When you think about Bravo, think the next new franchise for them, because HOUSEWIVES is done. The network says it is looking for big personalities who are experts in their unique fields. Keep in mind that Bravo’s target is the upper middle class, educated woman who thinks of herself as savvy and hip to pop culture trends.
Bravo is taking its well-established TV personalities into new media as the Real Housewives get their own channel on Sirius XM, the TOP CHEFtestants get their own print magazine produced by Food & Wine and episodes are being made available for VOD through the new Xbox 360.