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Specials Scare Up Attention

11/28/2004 7:00 PM Eastern

Looking to provide fresh fare to its viewers, Bravo will continue to trot out original specialty shows and events to complement its original series.

Such specials as last week’s (Nov. 27) Elton John Live at Radio City concert or October’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments do more than just drive ratings, said Bravo president Lauren Zalaznick. When grouped together as part of a week or month-long block of programming, they provide the network with quality, appointment-viewing destinations.

“The viewer’s comfort food is their series, but specials are the dessert that they crave,” she said. “You have a limited opportunity to see it, so viewers are tuning in.”

Zalaznick hopes to develop at least one major special a quarter, as well as multi-episodic events similar to the five-part 100 Greatest TV Characters that debuted last week.

The strategy is not unlike the one Zalaznick deployed successfully at fledgling pop culture network Trio, “only with a bigger platform and more marketing money,” she said.

Zalaznick would not address Trio’s future. The network, currently in 20 million homes, could be dissolved or folded into Bravo, according to sources.

Among next month’s plans, the network will bow on Dec. 7 The Sarah Jones Show, a one-woman comedy show, as well as a Christmas special from the gang at Queer Eye From the Straight Guy.

Also on tap: The Christmas Special Christmas Special (Dec. 14) and Entertainment Weekly Presents the Biggest Little Things of 2004 (Dec. 16). By staggering these specials over a two-week period, Zalaznick said, Bravo creates appointment viewing for subscribers.

“You can actually put together a bunch of different one-offs and create an event atmosphere on the channel for a limited amount of time,” Zalaznick said.

The network thus far has two specials on the docket for 2005: Forty Deuce, which profiles the launch of a Hollywood burlesque club; and the McG-directed, Steven Spielberg-produced Dan Finnerty and The Dan Band, which focuses on a karaoke-inspired, all-male band that covers female-oriented music hits.

Zalaznick said such specials provide differentiated programming for its regular audience, while providing content that can broaden Bravo’s appeal: “It’s a way to reward your gold viewers with a truly special event that is handcrafted for them, but also trying to reach your tentacles out and reach more viewers.”

So far the specials have fared fairly well. Last month’s five-part 100 Scariest Movie Moments averaged a 0.5 household rating, while improving its adult 18-to-49 and 25-to-54 marks during the time period by 50% and 47% respectively.

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