Frances Berwick continues to climb up the ranks at Bravo, and has now been named president of the cabler.
The British exec arrived at Bravo Networks in 1996 from the U.K.’s Channel 4. She has most recently served as exec VP and g.m. The prexy post at Bravo has been vacant since 2008 when Lauren Zalaznick was promoted to prexy of NBC Universal Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks. Berwick continues to report to Zalaznick.
According to the net, Bravo has seen a 33% increase in original programming since Berwick was named g.m. in 2008. Ratings have accelerated on the strength of the “Top Chef” and “Real Housewives” franchises.
According to Berwick, the net’s growing auds have translated to big profits. The ad community, says Berwick, can reach high-end auds through Bravo programming.
“We’ve gotten very good at targeting those we want: Educated, upscale high-income people,” she told Daily Variety . “We’re providing content to viewers that advertisers can’t reach elsewhere.”
Bravo currently has four “Real Housewives” shows in rotation — Orange County, Atlanta, New York City and New Jersey — and a fifth based in Washington, D.C., has already been ordered and is in post-production. The network said an announcement of the cast and premiere date should be announced shortly.
There has been speculation that Tareq and Michaele Salahi — the couple that crashed a White House dinner last year — will be featured in the new series.
Although the “Housewives” women often live extremely well, Berwick says the franchise garners strong numbers because it reflects the difficult economic times as well. Several characters have had to deal with foreclosure issues, and, she added, real estate skein “Flipping Out” is a “better show” because protagonist and investor Jeff Lewis is more stressed than ever before about selling properties.
Berwick says Bravo has five series in the script development stage and she envisions the net will get the go-ahead for at least one show in some point in the future but was hesitant to offer a time frame.
“We’re still actively developing, but being cautious,” she explains. “Whatever we ultimately greenlight will have to perfect. One of our challenges is that people tell us about our existing shows, ‘You can’t write this stuff or make this stuff up.’ Any scripted show that is going to co-exist with that will have to feel part and parcel with our lineup.”
Series that Berwick has helped shepherd during her 14-year career at Bravo include “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” “Project Runway,” “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” and the channel’s longest-running original series, “Inside the Actor’s Studio.”