Bravo, the highbrow of premium cable networks, has become a low-cost medium for movie marketers.
Since beginning its life as an ad-supported network last fall, Bravo has become the darling of specialty, small or boutique film-production companies, which pay as little as $400 for a 30-second spot in prime time.
Studios such as Fox Searchlight, Miramax Films, October Films and Sony Classics have been aggressively using Bravo because its highbrow audience ideally matches their own moviegoing audience profiles.
"Bravo is a very efficient buy for us," said Dennis Rice, president of marketing for October Films, which is using Bravo for its forthcoming Robert Altman movie, "Cookie's Fortune." "Out-of-pocket costs are reasonable, even for the smallest pictures."
By comparison, media executives say the more widely distributed A&E Network gets from $1,200 to as high as $10,000 for a prime-time spot in top-rated programming.
For the upscale adult 25-54 demographic, Bravo has been generating an $8.50 to $11.50 cost-per-thousand, which is comparable to other cable nerworks, such as A&E and Discovery Channel.
Bravo, owned by Cablevision Systems and NBC's Rainbow Media Holdings, is earning a Nielsen HomeVideo Index 0.5 household rating in its universe of 38 million subscribers and a 0.3 rating for adults 25 to 54.
MIRAMAX LIKES ITS AUDIENCE
"Bravo viewers are more likely to go to movies," said Karen Picker, VP-broadcast media for Miramax, who has used Bravo to advertise such films as Oscar winners "Shakespeare in Love" and "Life Is Beautiful."
Bravo made the move to being ad-supported at the right time; there's been a significant increase in the number of specialty movies being advertised, including from major studios' boutique start-ups.
"We are benefiting from a couple of trends," said Ed Carroll, exec VP-general manager of Bravo. "More specialty films being released every year means more business for us. [Additionally], the fastest-growing segment of the movie audience is 35 years old and up. And with these customers, more and more tickets are being pre-sold now."
The irony is that while Bravo's typical viewers are wealthy, specialty film marketers aren't. Typically, these movies have marketing budgets of, say, $500,000, as compared with $15 million to $20 million for mainstream movies.
Media plans may start with just a heavy print buy in a film's initial markets, as well as some local cable or spot TV.
"In many cases, we may be the only [national] cable buy," Mr. Carroll said.
He said approximately 10% to 15% of Bravo's current ad revenues come from movie advertisers.
'SHAKESPEARE' TYPICAL CASE
Miramax's "Shakespeare in Love" is a typical case for Bravo. It was launched in December with print and local cable buys in New York and Los Angeles, and on Bravo. But the film's media and marketing have increased substantially since then--to almost $15 million--according to industry executives, now that it's on almost 2,000 screens.
As part of its media deals with advertisers, Bravo produces programming shorts about their movies--7- to 8-minute behind-the-scenes "The Making of . . ." shows.
Copyright April 1999, Crain Communications Inc.