Perhaps more than any other 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.
Bravo defines and schedules its programming around themes of food, fashion, beauty, design and pop culture, and plans to add digital themed program in the upcoming season.
MARCH 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison March 2012 vs. March 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Bravo lost 10% of its live primetime women 18-49 viewers vs. last year, improving ratings on just two nights this March. All four programs returning from last year lost significant audience vs. 2011, down between 24% and 33% among women 18-49. Fortunately, Bravo has a few programming tricks up its sleeve and a host of new programs to offset the losses. The HOUSEWIVES and their spin-offs seemed to take over the schedule, appearing nearly every night of the week, and new programs and specials were peppered throughout the lineup.
Sunday is the clear ratings leader on Bravo, playing host to the top-rated programs each month. This March was no exception as the three programs airing on Sunday nights were the top three rated programs of the month. Ratings war-horse THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA set the stage, improving ratings by over 20% vs. last month. New program SHAHS OF SUNSET, a reality show about young affluent, Iranian-Americans living, shopping and playing in Beverly Hills was off to a good start. While it loses about one-third of its ATLANTA premiere lead-in, it tops the 8PM ATLANTA encore and all the other regularly scheduled programming on Bravo. Its highest ratings came on the third week, a good sign that it is catching on. A special episode of HOUSEWIVES spin-off THE KANDI FACTORY was strong as well, and it will become a regularly scheduled program this summer.
Tuesday is the other strong night on Bravo. It is the only other night to achieve women 18-49 ratings higher than the primetime average, which shows how disparate the schedule is across the week. The night grew by 28% vs. last year and by 19% vs. last month. Again, it was the REAL HOUSEWIVES leading the way. This time the ladies of OC were the stars. Premiere night for the OC series was Sundays last year, but it moved to Tuesdays this year and the four premiere telecasts delivered 22% lower women 18-49 ratings than last March's four premiere telecasts. The total program ratings average (19 telecasts this year, 21 last year) was off by 26%.
Contrary to our findings, in a press release, Bravo claimed REAL HOUSEWIVES OF OC is “pacing to be the most watched season of the OC series...up 10 percent from the previous season, according to Nielsen.” However, this stat uses household ratings, not the target demos. Women and adult 18-49 season to date premiere telecast ratings (the first seven episodes of the respective seasons) are down by 13%. Either way, it is safe to say that the move from Sundays to Tuesdays has helped Tuesday nights and the bottom line, if not the program.
TABATHA TAKES OVER is still strong in its 10PM Tuesday night slot. It is holding audience from last month and ranks fourth on women 18-49 ratings.
And now for the bad news.
Mondays struggled this month. BETHENNY EVER AFTER, in its second season, led the night with ratings that were off by 33% vs. last year and by 26% vs. last month’s premiere. AT 10PM IT’S A BRAD BRAD WORLD had its finale with sub-par ratings and no renewal notice. LOVE BROKER took over, but it was pulled after two weeks and will reportedly return in the summer.
Wednesday nights hosted the final episodes of TOP CHEF TEXAS, which brought disappointing ratings after last year’s ALL STARS season. Design programming took over with premieres of INTERIOR THERAPY and MILLION DOLLAR LISTING. The programs tend to skew older than the rest of the line-up – garnering middle-of-the road household ratings but some of the lowest women 18-49 premiere episode ratings.
There is a lot of programming room left on the line-up. Thursday through Saturday features repeats, encores and movies. In its upfront presentation to advertisers, the net announced next year will bring an overall 27% increase in original programming. This includes 11 new unscripted series and two new scripted series that will be classified in a new Bravo genre, digital.
(Renewed returning series include FLIPPING OUT, TABATHA TAKES OVER, MILLION DOLLAR DECORATORS, TOP CHEF MASTERS, MILLION DOLLAR LISTING LA, CHEF ROBLE & CO, PREGNANT IN HEELS and INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO.)