BRAVO'S 'BLOW OUT' RETURNS BUT WITH NEW BUSINESS MODEL

Original Three Sponsors Won't Foot Production Costs

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LOS ANGELES -- Get ready to watch hip hairdressers throw more fits and tattooed stylist-to-the-stars Jonathan Antin break down in tears again: NBC Universal's Bravo is getting ready to bring Blow Out back for another season.



But the second season of the reality show, which revolved around the opening of Mr. Antin's Beverly Hills salon, will have a different look behind the scenes, as the advertisers who footed most of the production bill the first time won't return in that capacity.

Magna Global Entertainment

American Express, Revlon and Luxottica Group's LensCrafters sponsored the series' first batch of six episodes as part of a deal between Bravo and the show's producers, Ben Silverman's NBC Universal-based Reveille and ad giant Magna Global Entertainment.

As part of the pact, producers waived the license fee to the network in exchange for control of half the ad inventory, taking on much of the financial risk that a network usually assumes. The marketers helped fund production, supplying goods and services and advertising during the show's summer run.

American Express, as it had done with The Restaurant's Rocco DiSpirito, used Mr. Antin as a celebrity spokesman in an ad campaign for its "Open" small-business service. The partners promoted the show on-air and off-channel.

Switching business models

Blow Out, after a slow start, built to an audience of more than 1 million viewers, becoming one of the strongest performers on

Bravo's schedule. Because of the solid ratings, Bravo executives decided to pay an undisclosed license fee for season two, switching from a marketer-supported to a network-supported business model.

The move is similar to what's been done with shows such as The Restaurant, produced by reality maven Mark Burnett, Reveille and Magna Global. For The Restaurant and Blow Out, the producers negotiated in advance for the advertiser-sponsored first seasons and, if the networks were happy with ratings, the license fee for second seasons.

"Once the network saw the success of Blow Out, they wanted to own it," said Mr. Silverman, the show's executive producer. The arrangement will give the network more flexibility on scheduling the show and repurposing it for its sibling channels.

Tantrums, firings and defections

The second season of Blow Out will take up where season one left off, which ended with Mr. Antin shoring up his team after a rocky beginning that included tantrums, firings and defections, at Jonathan Salon on Wilshire Boulevard.

As for product placement, one thing's for sure: The episodes, which haven't yet begun production, will tout Mr. Antin's line of shampoos, conditioners and styling gels called Jonathan Products.

Other advertisers may also come on board. Bravo ad sales executives %%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% are in discussions with potential partners in various categories for brand integration and media buys. Mr. Silverman said the series lends itself easily to auto manufacturers, luxury goods and fashion. No deals have yet been brokered.

The integrated sponsors from season one could show up again, though American Express has made a practice of being involved with only the first season of a new show before moving on to another project. The marketer recently launched a "My life, my card" campaign with celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Tiger Woods.

'The Biggest Loser' isn't

Courting marketers has become a stock in trade for Mr. Silverman's projects, with NBC shopping the surprise hit The Biggest Loser for more brand integration for its recently announced second season.

24 Hour Fitness and Comp USA have worked with the show so far, and could return for another season, along with new advertisers aiming to latch onto its aspirational qualities. The series, which has proved to be a workhorse on NBC's Tuesday night lineup, follows a group of people who diet and exercise their way to better bodies.

Additionally, talent search reality show Nashville Star, hosted by LeeAnn Rimes, is spawning sponsor interest heading into its third season on USA Network, and even The Office, an American remake of the British hit planned for NBC, could work for select marketers. The Office is a no-laugh-track workplace comedy where brands would naturally fit into the landscape.

"There could be some ideal partners for the show," Mr. Silverman said.
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