Bravo a Hit on the Web

Mar 14, 2005  •  Post A Comment

When Bravo premieres “Project Greenlight” March 15, it will simulcast the show on-air and online. It’s the latest example of Bravo’s new media strategy that in four months has led to nearly quadruple the usage of the network’s Web site.

The marketing strategy to offer series premieres online or on-demand is gaining popularity among broadcast and cable networks as they look for innovative ways to quickly capture an audience.

For instance, last summer HBO offered 18 minutes of the first episode of “Entourage” on-demand before premiering it on-air. Also last summer, AOL Television made available the first episode of The WB show “Jack & Bobby” to AOL subscribers two weeks in ad-vance of its on-air premiere, generating 700,000 streams. Just last week Yahoo! streamed the first episode of Kirstie Alley vehicle “Fat Actress” simultaneous with its on-air debut on Showtime.

These efforts speak to the increasing importance that programmers are placing on alternative distribution platforms to promote and drive viewership for their new shows.

Bravo is partnering with AOL Television to offer this week’s “Project Greenlight” premiere to AOL members and nonmembers through AOL.com (tv.channel.aol.com).

Earlier this year Bravo offered its first online/on-air simulcast with the premiere of “Queer Eye for the Straight Girl,” and delivered more than 100,000 streams. For “Project Greenlight” the network will send both the premiere and, in May, the finale down the broadband pipe for consumers to view on their computers.

The show will be streamed online concurrent with its West Coast premiere at 9 p.m. (PT) because of the show’s West Coast flavor and to avoid cannibalizing West Coast viewership with an earlier online offering.

“Project Greenlight,” which previously aired on HBO for two seasons, follows the story of an aspiring screenwriter and a director who each win a contest to make their first film. Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and movie producer Chris Moore are executive producers of the Bravo show and the winning film, horror flick “Feast.”

“It’s a way of embracing a new idea about marketing and using it as an opportunity to sample the show and develop buzz,” said Jason Klarman, senior VP of marketing for Bravo. “The Web is a perfect forum to do that because you can deliver the marketing message and the content, and we believe people will ultimately want to watch it on television.”

Data suggests this marketing strategy works. AOL Television surveyed viewers who watched “Jack & Bobby” online last summer and nearly 90 percent said they were very likely to watch future episodes on The WB, said Patricia Karpas, VP and general manager for AOL Television.

Exclusive Content

In tandem with the “Project Greenlight” premiere and finale, Bravo plans to carve out a significant amount of real estate online for exclusive content. That will include previews of the next episodes, interviews with the top six screenwriter finalists, director’s reels from the top 10 director finalists, regular blogs from executives and people on the show and video extras.

“If you are really into the show, you want as much as you can get,” Mr. Klarman said.

Bravo offered an army of content online for its show “Project Runway” last month, such as exclusive scenes, outtakes and even a fashion show by series favorite Austin Scarlett, who did not make the final on-air cut. But his runway show was seen online by nearly 120,000 people.

During “Project Runway’s” finale Feb. 23, its portion of the BravoTV.com Web site generated 3 million page views. In fact, Web usage ramped up so quickly, with more than 150,000 unique viewers watching more than 3 million pages between them, including Mr. Scarlett’s show, the servers crashed and Bravo had to fire up an additional server the next day.

In all of February, Web site BravoTV.com generated more than 1 million unique visitors and 20 million page views. That compares with about 500,000 unique visitors and a little more than 5 million average page views per month before Bravo kicked off its aggressive online plans in the fourth quarter.

In its on-air promotions for “Project Greenlight,” Bravo will mention the additional content available online. And it will include the Bravo URL in consumer marketing material.

Crowded Marketplace

“In a world of trying to break through and bust through a very crowded entertainment marketplace, people are looking for a bigger and broader experience to get more in-volved in the shows, and I think the Web is a great way to give them that additional value,” Mr. Klarman said.

AOL Television also offers a four-minute recap of “Desperate Housewives” online on Monday mornings and generates 200,000 to 300,000 streams per recap, Ms. Karpas said.