New York -- Cable-network affiliates clamoring for more
local avails have two additional minutes per hour now that Bravo has converted to a full
And initial response from the buyer side also appeared to
Bravo has doubled its network commercial minutes to eight
per hour since October, compared with its former limited-sponsorship model. And the
network has just begun to concentrate on helping its affiliates to sell the local avails
to upscale-skewed advertisers, said Ed Carroll, Bravo Networks' executive vice president
and general manager.
The film-and-arts network now reaches 38 million
subscribers after adding 6.5 million homes last year, Carroll said. He estimated that 95
percent of its subscribers are insertable for local sale.
Carroll said Adlink in Los Angeles was the first
interconnect to map out a local strategy for this "newly created inventory on the
"We don't view this as simply more inventory, but
rather as inventory that commands a premium rate. We've spent most of the fourth quarter
[pushing that nationally]," he said.
Automotive will be among Adlink's prime targets as the
interconnect seeks local buys from dealerships of automakers on Bravo's roster such as
Toyota Motor Sales USA's Lexus division, General Motors Corp., DaimlerChrysler's
Mercedes-Benz unit and Subaru of America Inc., said Vicki Lins, Adlink's marketing
At TBWA/Chiat/Day -- clients of which include Nissan Motor
Co.'s Infiniti division -- executive vice president Annette Cherbone said Infiniti dealers
also might be interested in Bravo's local avails and upscale audience.
"Any expansion [of inventory] is always welcome for
any buyer," she added.
Lins said the Los Angeles interconnect will actually begin
selling Bravo locally in April, when Michael Moore's series, The Awful Truth, bows.
Adlink plans a client entertainment event tied to that high-profile weekly series'
premiere, she said, as well as mailings to prospective upscale clients like Mercedes.
Inside the Actor's Studio and Bravo Profiles are
other signature series that should interest Adlink accounts, she added. Besides packaging
Bravo with other upscale networks, like A&E Network and Turner Network Television, she
said, Adlink plans new-business pitches touting Bravo's upscale-female strength.
Other categories that Adlink will pitch for Bravo avails
include financial, technology, telecommunications, movie studios, travel and luxury
products (such as jewelry), Lins added.
Carroll said Gregg Hill, the network's Chicago-based
Western division senior vice president, who heads Bravo's local-sales initiative, will be
contacting other interconnects, MSOs and operators.
Bravo's longtime presenting sponsors, like GM and Texaco
Inc., have now become rotation sponsors, along with recently sold accounts in such
categories as financial (American Express Co., Charles Schwab & Co.),
telecommunications/technology (IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp.'s WebTV Networks, MCI WorldCom,
Xerox Corp.) and others (De Beers Corp., Federal Express Corp. and Miramax Films), Carroll
But Bravo will continue to seek presenting sponsors for
events like TheCount of Monte Cristo, he said, noting that MCI and Lexus
have bought into that eight-hour, $20 million miniseries, which is set to air June 21.
Although Bravo scores relatively small audience numbers --
an average 0.3 household rating in recent Nielsen Media Research primetime data -- Carroll
maintained that this low number is offset by its attractive upscale demographics.
Citing newly released Nielsen data, Charlene Weisler,
Bravo's research vice president, said the network was strong in the 1997-98 broadcast-TV
year in various upper-income, college-education and professional/managerial categories.
She added that Mediamark Inc.'s research data put Bravo's
median household income at about $58,000 -- "the highest of any cable network or pay
service," including CNBC, Cable News Network, A&E and Discovery Channel.
Buyers tend to take such boasts with a grain of salt.
Cherbone, for instance, cautioned that "the smaller the viewer base, the more upscale
the skew," adding that skew is diminished as a network's audience grows.
But what about industry concerns that Bravo might alienate
its audience with all of that new inventory, plus the related shift to commercial
interruptions from the past preshow and postshow spots?
Carroll said the network had a research firm survey
subscribers last month to explore that very issue, and it found that their "brand
affection" has increased in the past year.