Network 'Bigger' Than One Runaway 'Runway' Show

Road to the Upfront: Bravo

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The Player: Bravo
The Date: April 15, 2008
The Venue: Craft, New York
Key Execs: Lauren Zalaznick, president-Bravo Media and Oxygen Media; Susan Malfa, senior VP-Bravo and Oxygen ad sales; Lisa Hsia, senior VP-new media; Frances Berwick, exec VP-general manager, Bravo Media
The Food: Healthy (and by healthy, we mean generous) portions of bacon, muffins, sausage frittata and ham & cheese biscuits, as well as fresh fruit for the lighter appetites.
The Drinks: Coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice.
The Swag: A "Top Chef" cookbook, part of Ms. Zalaznick's plan to make the Bravo brand visible "more often and in more places."

The Pitch: Round Two of the Bravo vs. Lifetime battle.
New seasons of flagship series 'Top Chef' and 'Project Runway' have both made the first quarter strong, with 'Runway' alone bringing in $20.9 million in ad dollars over the last two quarters.
New seasons of flagship series 'Top Chef' and 'Project Runway' have both made the first quarter strong, with 'Runway' alone bringing in $20.9 million in ad dollars over the last two quarters. Credit: Bravo

Ms. Zalaznick played it cool and earnest during her network's upfront presentation to press this morning in New York. Of the lawsuit NBC Universal filed last week against the Weinstein Co. over the rights to "Project Runway," Ms. Zalaznick could only officially offer a "no comment." She pointed to reports from yesterday's Lifetime upfront, during which Harvey Weinstein offered three years of servitude to Jeff Zucker as a peace offering for moving Bravo's top-rated show to Lifetime.

"Harvey [Weinstein] was supposed to be here, but as you reported yesterday, Jeff [Zucker] has four kids to take to school, cars to drive and all those windows to clean, so he may not make it," Ms. Zalaznick said.

"Project Runway" will be back for one more season on Bravo in July. Also coming this summer are new seasons of "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List," "Flipping Out" and "Shear Genius," with second seasons also on deck for "Top Design," "The Real Housewives of New York City" and "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style," slated for later in the year.

"Runway" controversy notwithstanding, Ms. Zalaznick was confident in Bravo's growth during 2007 and its plans to capitalize on it further in 2008. "Ours is not a comeback story. 2007 was an award-winning and record-breaking year. We want Bravo to not just be about one show. Bravo is about an environment," she said.

The key dwellers in the Bravo environment were dubbed "affluencers" by the network last year -- upscale, highly influential viewers in the 18-49 and 25-54 age categories.

They're most likely to blog about their favorite shows and products, and they're also highly receptive to brand recall, based on numerous IAG studies conducted on branded integrations. Bravo scored five of IAG's top 20 most-recalled integrated spots, or "hybrid ads," in 2007, taking the top slot for Bluefly.com's sponsorship of "Project Runway."

Bravo will seek an industry-leading position on interactive TV when it launches its new "L-bar" technology in June. The feature will serve as an occasional pop-up menu during shows to encourage interactivity among viewers via their cellphones to text votes, comments and sponsor-based requests. Ms. Hsia, Bravo's head of new media, said the goal is to take a remote control's interactive-TV functionality and adapt it to the cellphone, providing real-time metrics to turn around quickly for an advertiser. She confirmed Chrysler has signed on as the first "L-Bar" sponsor when it debuts during the first "Bravo A-List Awards" June 12.

And stay tuned for the second half of Bravo's upfront strategy, as Ms. Zalaznick unveils her plans for her new role as president of Oxygen, NBC Universal's latest cable acquisition. She told Ad Age her plan is to make the Bravo and Oxygen brands work together to become a combined destination for "female-targeted programming," steering clear of the stigma attached to identifying either channel as a "women's network." The new brand statement? "Generation O," Ms. Zalaznick said.
(From left) Susan Malfa, Senior VP, Bravo and Oxygen Ad Sales; Lisa Hsia, Senior VP, New Media and Digital Strategy, Bravo; Lauren Zalaznick, President, Bravo Media and Oxygen Media; Tom Colicchio; Frances Berwick, Exec. VP and General Manager, Bravo Media.
(From left) Susan Malfa, Senior VP, Bravo and Oxygen Ad Sales; Lisa Hsia, Senior VP, New Media and Digital Strategy, Bravo; Lauren Zalaznick, President, Bravo Media and Oxygen Media; Tom Colicchio; Frances Berwick, Exec. VP and General Manager, Bravo Media. Credit: Billy Tompkins/Bravo

Last Year's Take: Bravo dipped in ad revenues from $223.4 million in 2006 to $202.4 million in 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence. But the new seasons of flagship series "Project Runway" and "Top Chef" have both made the first quarter strong, with "Runway" alone bringing in $20.9 million in ad dollars over the last two quarters.

The Ratings Game: A top 30 network just two years ago, Bravo has steadily become a larger player among women 18-34 and 18-49, among whom it ranked ninth in first quarter of 2008. 2007 also brought a string of new successes to the network as it built out its reality franchises, with 12 shows crossing the 1 million viewer mark last year.

The Digital Play: BravoTV.com expanded last year with the acquisition of TV show blog "Television Without Pity," adding to a portfolio that already includes BrilliantButCanceled.com and Outzone.com. This year, Ms. Hsia will be launching dedicated portals to each of the network's core lifestyle categories, starting with a Bravo for Foodies for "Top Chef" fans. Last month's finale of Season 4 of "Project Runway" also helped BravoTV.com nearly double its year-over-year unique visits, leaping from 700,000 in March 2007 to 1.3 million in March 2008, according to ComScore.
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