For Bravo Media and its recently promoted president Frances Berwick, summer 2010 is forecast to be its hottest to date.
The network will air 11 new or returning series during the warm-weather months and is supporting its 16% increase in original programming with its first on-air, multi-talent image campaign, entitled "Summer By Bravo."
"We didn't quite fathom how many people were involved," said Berwick, who was promoted from general manager of Bravo last week, of the more than 30 ‘Bravolebrities' depicted in the initial spot at a rooftop pool party. "We had four different shoots and then had to composite them. We wanted to convey that Bravo is the cool, fun place to be this summer."
In addition to running the promo on its own air, Bravo has secured a schedule in movie theaters before such films as Sex and the City 2 and Get Me To The Greek. Subsequent creative iterations will center on more specific talent and their shows.
One of the net's top rookies will showcase The Real Housewives of New York City star Bethenny Frankel. Premiering June 10 at 10 p.m., Bethenny Getting Married? is as much sitcom as docu-series, according to Berwick. "She's pregnant and there's a lot going in her personal life and with her business. At times, it's laugh out loud funny. At others, it's very emotional," said Berwick, who expects the show to play big for Bravo with the Nielsens.
Berwick also has high hopes for Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, which bows the night before at 11 p.m. From long-time network collaborator Magic Elves (Top Chef) and Sarah Jessica Parker's production company Pretty Matches, the series gives 14 up-and-coming New York artists a chance for a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum and a cash prize of $100,000.
"It's about photography, sculpture and painting; it's a different kind of competition show," she said.
Berwick is also looking at different process and timetables as the network eyes its initial foray into the scripted series arena. From the time Bravo gives the go-ahead for a reality or docu-series, it typically takes five or six months for the show to appear on the network, according to Berwick.
However scripted fare, from concept and rewrites, to casting and piloting, and from green-lighting a series to its delivery on air, has "a much longer gestation period. This is evolutionary for our brand. We're not going to do it unless it feels right," said Berwick, noting that there are currently five scripted in various stages of development. "Hopefully, one or two are pilotable."
Either way, Bravo's inaugural push into scripted won't come during the upcoming 2010-11 TV season.
In the meantime, Bravo will plunge deeper into the advanced media space.
"With linear, there's a scorecard the next morning with the ratings," she said. "But we can get a much more immediate reaction to a show from Twitter comments or through our virtual viewing parties, our Bravo Talk Bubble," said Berwick. "Viewers want to interact with our characters and shows and engage through shared social media experiences."
The network also wants to stay on the cutting edge of digital, particularly through its partnership with social networking site Foursquare that aspires to keep audiences involved long after they click off the TV or shut their computer. "We invest a lot with R&D trying to find what is really going to drive the entertainment needle," she said.
Bravo also wants to drive more tangible -- e.g revenue-producing -- results on the consumer merchandising front. Berwick points to the pair of best-selling Top Chef books, with a third ready to roll and a Real Housewives of New York edition that will hit digital and retail shelves shortly.
Berwick also said the network also recently introduced "Top Chef University," an online course where users can get tips from former series contestants on "everything from the basics to complicated techniques. We have had quite a number of sign-ups since we launched [in late May]."
Enrollment costs $24.99 per month or $195 for the year.