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Bravo Cooks Up ‘Chef’ Crossover

May 28, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Bravo is adding a surprising ingredient to its “Top Chef” recipe to spice up ratings for the series’ third season.
For the first time, the NBC Universal cable channel is incorporating its Spanish-language corporate cousin Telemundo into the show via a cross-promotional deal that includes original programming on both channels as well as webisodes and blogs in both Spanish and English.
Stars of several Telemundo shows will appear on episodes of “Top Chef,” while a popular former “Top Chef” contestant from last season, Carlos Fernandez, will appear weekly on Telemundo’s morning show “Cada Dia,” cooking up winning recipes and talking about his experiences on the show.
Bravo was only the 29th-ranked ad-supported cable channel in total viewership during the first quarter. But it grew 16 percent from a year ago and its buzz-generating competition shows such as “Top Chef” and “Project Runway” bolster the network by pulling relatively huge audiences for cable.
“Top Chef” averaged more than 2 million viewers during season two and its finale was the most-watched entertainment show on cable among adults 18-49 in January.
Telemundo is the No. 2 Spanish-language channel behind leader Univision.
Bravo decided to reach out to find a Hispanic media partner because the new season of “Top Chef” is set in Miami, which meant the series would take on a Latin flavor, said Jason Klarman, executive VP of marketing and digital for Bravo.
With the Hispanic audience growing, Mr. Klarman sees big potential in adding Telemundo’s bilingual Latino viewers.
“It’s a whole new audience that may not have tasted it before,” Mr. Klarman said. “As successful as any of our shows are, it’s a big world and we want to make this show even bigger.”
Mr. Klarman said “Top Chef” is a natural for this type of multicultural marketing. He said the show has always featured diverse casts, and “everyone likes food.”
Like other Bravo competition shows, “Top Chef” is involved in numerous marketing partnerships. Working within the NBC Universal family made this particular deal easy to whip up.
“It was nice to make the call in-house to someone that you know,” Mr. Klarman said.
In the deal, Bravo exposes its audience of affluent, influential and engaged viewers to Telemundo shows, he said, while Telemundo provides additional media assets that should help bring more viewers to Bravo.
“I think we’re going to be able to drive traffic from the Telemundo network to Bravo,” said Telemundo president Don Browne. “I think the tune-in to Bravo will then drive traffic back to Telemundo.”
The cross-promotion has other potential benefits. For talent, the Bravo tie-in signals that they’re working with a bigger entity than Telemundo, one with crossover possibilities into the English-speaking market, Mr. Browne said. The promos on Bravo also are seen by advertisers and media buyers.
“We are looking for general market [ad] dollars, and this cross-promotion is not just to drive audience, it’s also to drive top-of-mind and perception in the buying community as well,” he said.
Given the Miami locale of the new season of “Top Chef,” it was easy for Bravo to feature Telemundo personalities in the show. In one episode, the cooking challenge will be to prepare an authentic Latin meal for the casts of telenovela “Dame Chocolate,” “Cada Dia,” gossip show “Cotorreando,” newsmagazine “Al Rojo Vivo” and cable channel mun2’s “Vivo.” The challenge was shot on the set of “Dame Chocolate,” in what was once the “Miami Vice” studio.
In addition to being featured on Telemundo’s “Cada Dia,” Mr. Fernandez will be featured in a series of webisodes. They will be called “Miami Spice: Hot Recipes With Latin Flavor” on Bravo’s Web site and “Sabrosazon” in Spanish on Telemundo.yahoo.com.
Mr. Fernandez also will be doing bilingual blogging on the Bravo and Telemundo Web sites.
Bravo will set up the new season of “Top Chef” June 6 with a special in which stars from the previous seasons will cook for the season-three competitors. The third season premieres June 13 with a super-sized 75-minute episode that starts at 10 p.m.

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