Bravo Analysis - August 2011

Publish date:


* Bold denotes programming change


This is a female-leaning network, but plenty of men show up, too. As much as any 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. Hourlong programs dominate for now, but look for half hour programs in the future.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison August 2011 vs. August 2010  (% Change)




Monday 8-11pm




Tuesday 8-11pm




Wednesday 8-11pm




Thursday 8-11pm




Friday 8-11pm




Saturday 8-11pm




Sunday 8-11pm




MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

AUGUST 2011:  After a couple of months of decline, Bravo improved its core women 18-49 bottom line ratings over last month by 11%. However, the network is still pacing well behind last year with women 18-49 primetime ratings off by a significant 18% vs. last August. Male audiences took even steeper declines (-41% bottom line), effectively shrinking the adult audience by one-fourth. While Bravo’s Sunday night audience doubled compared to 2010, the net took significant losses on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY was the lead program both this year and last. While the bottom-line program average was only 5% lower among women 18-49, there were nearly twice as many primetime episodes on the air last year --  18 this year, 31 last year. And while the program dominated the top telecast list with each premiere episode both this year and last, this year’s 4 premieres delivered 30% below last year’s premieres. Together, the housewives’ lower ratings and smaller presence delivered a blow that Bravo never recovered from.

Wednesday nights also took a blow, this time from the chefs. Last summer TOP CHEF was strong in its seventh season, dominating Wednesday nights. This August we have ROCCO’S DINNER PARTY and TOP CHEF spin off JUST DESSERTS. Neither program is delivering near TOP CHEF’s numbers.

Thursdays hosted MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER this month, and while the program successfully grew core women 18-49 ratings with each successive week, total program ratings were slightly below the August primetime average and well below last year’s Thursday night fare: REAL HOUSEWIVES OF DC and BETHENNY GETTING MARRIED. Premiere eps of MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER placed in the top-rated telecast list, but the program and its encores were not strong enough to hold up an entire night.

On the positive side, Bravo has been able to shed its low-rated off net dramas that never fit in with the rest of the lineup. HOUSE and LAW & ORDER: CI are no longer airing in primetime. Also, new program MOST ELIGIBLE DALLAS came out of the box strong on Mondays with above average ratings for its two telecasts. FLIPPING OUT dominated Tuesday nights this month, and the new episodes ranked second behind REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NJ. Missing from the line-up was new episodes of THE RACHEL ZOE PROJECT, which was in full swing last August. This year season four premieres in September (and according to Bravo the premiere episode posted 29% growth vs. the season three premiere).


Bravo is usually as good as any network at banging on all cylinders. But beyond the REAL HOUSEWIVES, the net is having trouble scheduling programming that can hold up an entire night in Bravo’s typical stack-themed format. When you think about Bravo, think about what will draw the same kind of viewer who tunes in for HOUSEWIVES OF. It’s going to be in the schedule for the foreseeable future, so they’ll need programs to compliment it. And, think about the next new franchise for them, because this one’s in an extremely heavy rotation and showing signs of wear and tear. Keep in mind that Bravo's target is the upper middle class woman who thinks of herself as savvy and hip to pop culture trends.