Bravo Site Means Business

Jun 5, 2006  •  Post A Comment

When Bravo launches its new Web site on Tuesday, Jason Klarman will have a new business on his hands.

Historically, Bravotv.com has reported to Mr. Klarman, Bravo’s senior VP of marketing and brand strategy. But he said the latest revamp “really does mark the evolution of the site from a promotional page to a truly standalone business. That standalone business has a lot of unique content that is not available on the Bravo channel.”

As television networks move into digital to snag viewer loyalty and advertising dollars, their Web sites are becoming important hubs where users can check out a variety of material, ranging from broadband video to ringtones.

On Bravotv.com, “You can buy a T-shirt, you can post on the message boards, you can create your own video mash-up and you can look at the photo galleries,” Mr. Klarman said. Passionate fans want to do these things, “so we’ve created the place for them to do it.”

Monetizing the Web Site

Following a redesign in January, traffic on Bravo’s Web site has jumped to more than 1 million unique visitors per month, generating 20 million page views since last year, when the old site was attracting 100,000 unique visitors a month. “That’s a business and we’re starting to monetize it,” Mr. Klarman said. Advertisers including Johnson & Johnson, Sears, Southern Comfort and California Tourism are on the site already. Past advertisers include GM, Alberto-Culver and L’Or%E9;al.

Bravo’s revamp will introduce a news section called “The Dish.” A staff led by Editorial Director Beth Johnson has been hired. “We’re not the No. 1 most upscale network on television for no reason,” Mr. Klarman said. “We have a point of view, a take on programming, a take on pop culture, and we’re going to translate that onto the Web.”

Another new feature is staff picks, which will identify “the new cool jeans, the new guilty-pleasure Web site, the new wine everybody’s talking about,” Mr. Klarman said.

There is also a video of the day and a user poll.

Those four features also will appear on every Bravotv.com show micro-site in addition to the network’s home page. “The whole idea of the home page, that’s old-school,” Mr. Klarman said. “Half the people come from the home page, half the people don’t.”

The revamped site will feature a new video player that will give viewers access to the more than 250 pieces of video now available from Bravo, plus material from Bravo’s broadband channels Brilliant But Cancelled and OutZone.

Bravo is shooting more digital video exclusively for the Web site. “We went to the ‘Runway’ tryouts and interviewed all the judges and contestants. It all winds up online. It’s all unique content that is not on Bravo. We have more stuff like that.”

The network is also producing Web-only episodes drawn from Kathy Griffin’s stand-up routines and what Mr. Klarman calls “bodcasts,” which are daily exercise routines from Jackie Warner and the celebrity trainers featured on the new series “Work Out.”

The site’s search function will move across media type, giving a user access to video, blogs, audio and photo galleries, all with a single query.

Bravo has also moved heavily into blogs. Tim Gunn of “Project Runway” blogs year-round on the site. Dave Martin of “Top Chef” blogs on cooking, and there will be a fashion blog from Daniel V, a “Project Runway” contestant. Also blogging is Bravo VP of Production and Programming Andy Cohen.

Ms. Griffin will join the bloggers with the launch of the new season of her show.The Fab Five from “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” also will write blogs.

“We’ve got a cast of characters that existed on television that are now celebrities for us on the Web,” Mr. Klarman said.

Mr. Klarman said that all of this technology and effort is being made because that’s what fans of shows like “Runway” want.

Fans of Ms. Griffin are also very enthusiastic.

“They want to interact with each other. They want to go to message boards and talk about Kathy. They want to see blogs from Kathy. They want to see photo galleries from Kathy,” he said.

To promote the new season of Ms. Griffin’s “My Life on the D-List,” the network has been running a promotion called “Get Me Off the D-List.” Viewers are asked to vote on possible stunts Ms. Griffin could perform that might move her up to the C-list, such as joining the Church of Scientology or releasing a sex tape with Dame Judi Dench. The network already has received 150,000 votes between the Web site and an 800 number.

“It’s amazing. They want to really create this sense of community around ideas and subjects that they’re interested in,” Mr. Klarman said.

They’ll also vote with dollars at the site’s mobile-to-go and online store areas. Last month the network sold 1,000 “I’m not your bitch, bitch” T-shirts, which immortalized a line from the “Top Chef” show.

“We’re breaking new ground. We’re creating e-commerce. We’re creating mobile stores. We’re creating an environment that’s advertiser-friendly that clients want to be in because they want to be engaged in the same way our customer is engaged,” Mr. Klarman said.