Bravo not only wants viewers to watch, it wants them to throw a party for its shows.
The NBC Universal-owned cable network has launched a viewer party promotion called B-Hive to go with the current season of “Project Runway.”
Viewers who host get-togethers and post pictures of the festivities online at Bravotv.com can enter a sweepstakes. Prizes include a $1,000 gift certificate from B-Hive sponsor Bluefly.com and the possibility that a contestant from a prior season of “Runway” will come to a season-finale party.
“We realized we wanted to push Bravo beyond the screen. That means both the television screen and the computer screen,” said Lisa Hsia, senior VP of new media and digital strategy.
“We wanted to provide our fans with some sort of deeper connection with the brand, so we came up with the idea of these viewing parties.”
The B-Hive will be promoted on-air and online at Bravo’s Bravotv.com Web site, where ideas for hosts—Bravo thinks of them as “brand ambassadors”—are already posted. Those suggestions include having guests dress up like a favorite contestant, setting up a trading post where guests can swap used garments or holding a contest in which guests decorate white T-shirts with paint, markers or glitter and then awarding a prize for the most creative design at the end of the night.
Upcoming in a few weeks is a Bingo-type game in which spaces on the board get filled in as viewers hear someone on the show utter one of its new or familiar catchphrases.
Ms. Hsia said this is only the first phase of Bravo’s outreach programs. It’s starting small, but the network has big plans, she teased, declining to describe what they entail or specify which shows they’ll be designed to link with.
Bravo is coming off the highest-rated July among adults 18 to 49 in its history. Ratings among women in the demographic were up 20% during the month.
Bravo also is looking to connect with its fans by creating a panel of viewers it’s calling the Bravo Influentials. Viewers can sign up through the Bravotv.com Web site.
The network’s viewers are particularly active in interacting with the brand through the Web and over mobile, Ms. Hsia noted.
“We realized Bravo fans were dying to talk to us,” she said. In one interactive application, viewers were asked if they had any comments. Instead of commenting on the application, they used the opportunity to chat about their favorite shows and characters.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity,” she said. “We’re going to live and die by understanding who our viewers are and what they’re looking for, and this is one way of doing that.”
The network will send out questions to the panel every month or so. In return, the panelists will get access to exclusive content from Bravo programming, such as behind-the-scenes footage.
“I think their feedback will help us develop Bravo’s overall strategy, whether it’s programming, digital initiatives or our e-commerce plan,” she said. They’ll be told, “We’re thinking of trying some new things, would that be of interest to you?” she said.
Bravo’s ad sales efforts promote the channel’s young, upscale, educated audience. But members of the Bravo Influentials panel won’t be filtered. Anyone who wants to be a part can be, Ms. Hsia said.
They can opt to take a Bravo quiz on the Web site to prove if they’re a real fan, but that is optional.
Ms. Hsia said the Bravo Influentials panel won’t replace the network’s more traditional research.