Ops Say Bravo to Upscale Sales Gains


Bravo, which made its local ad-sales debut in April of 1999, expects to more than double its insertable-homes count by year's end, according to network officials.

The film and arts service started local-insertion efforts on Adlink, the 3.1-million subscriber Los Angeles interconnect. It now reaches nearly 26 million insertable homes-up 73 percent from last May, when systems and interconnects with 15 million subscribers were placing local spots on the Cablevision Systems Corp.-owned network.

The gains are "nothing short of sensational," said Bravo Networks senior vice president of Western division and local ad sales John Duff. And he expects that growth to continue.

"We expect our current 26 million subscriber figure to increase another 15 percent [by year-end], to 30 million," he said.

That would result in Bravo reaching twice as many insertable homes as last May.

Interconnects Comcast MarketLink Philadelphia and AdNex Detroit are among the newest additions to bolster Bravo's insertable tally, Duff said. The network also signed an affiliation renewal with Adelphia Communications Corp. early in November, he added.

Bravo had also doubled its insertable subscriber total early on, when it topped 6 million in June 1999, up from Adlink's 3 million.

But during the next two years, the pace of Bravo's insertable subscriber growth will likely taper off. That's because the network will shift focus to smaller systems, rather than the major MSOs and interconnects it has focused on thus far, he said.

Systems and interconnects buying local time on Bravo cite the network's lure for hard-to-reach upscale clients, or what Duff calls "top-tier advertisers." Such clients include high-end automakers, luxury goods manufacturers, bookstores and such performing arts groups as symphonies and theaters. Bravo is now developing a business-to-business category sales strategy for its affiliates, he added.

If the advertising marketplace slows down in 2001-as many have predicted-attracting such incremental dollars will become increasingly important, Duff said.

Adlink has enjoyed "strong results" from Bravo's local avails and the self-proclaimed film and arts network's local sales promotions in the L.A. market, said vice president of marketing and communications Vicki Lins.

"Bravo has strengthened a lot of our packages" because of its upscale audience, she added.

BMW has spent "a substantial amount of money" on Adlink, according to Duff.

The German carmaker has been a significant Bravo client from the outset, added Lins. For example, it sponsors the Bravo Fine Arts Calendar

Bravo has done "an excellent job in local sales," Lins said. "We're very pleased with the partnership."

Some were less effusive. At AT&T Broadband's Boston Interconnect (which dropped the name Greater Boston Cable Advertising last month), a sales executive said: "It's not one of our best sellers, but we like having it to pitch to our upscale categories. It's very compatible with A & E, History, The Learning Channel and HGTV [Home & Garden Television]."

Local sales for Bravo haven't had a big impact at Cable Advertising of Metro Atlanta, said marketing and promotions manager Kelly Krane. The interconnect hopes to change that next year, she said.

To further help affiliates and interconnects bolster their results, Bravo will add a second local sales promotion in 2001. The yearlong effort will be tied to Inside the Actors' Studio, Bravo's signature series.

Starting in January, the promo will include a contest in which consumers can enter a random drawing to win a trip for two to New York's The New School for a taping of the show, Duff said. The series shoots in the fall and spring.

The network also offers "Broadway on Bravo," an existing annual promotion in which entrants can win tickets to a Broadway play or, in some cases, local theater productions. This fall about 30 affiliates will run "Broadway on Bravo," Duff said, with some local ad support related to its national sponsors, such as Subaru.

Participating affiliates in both turnkey promotions will receive a full complement of on-air promo spots, ad slicks and point-of-sale materials.