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Bravo Has New Boss, But Programming Remains Intact

NBCUniversal net to develop three scripted series to add to reality fare

Bravo may have a new corporate supervisor at NBCUniversal, but the popular cabler’s programming tone looks to remain intact.

Known best, perhaps, for its unscripted programs centered on outsize and madcap personalities, Bravo expects to air 35 original series over the next programming year, including several docuseries. Bravo will develop a few scripted programs as well, executives from the network said during a Tuesday presentation to the media.

Bravo said the slate for the coming season features the  largest number of original programs to date, up 15% on 2012. The network has found success by mining an audience of what it calls “affluencers” – high-income, highly-educated viewers in their 30s and 40s who are passionate about adult leisuretime activities, including food, fashion, beauty, design and popular culture. Executives said the network has seen its ratings among adults 18 to 49 rise 5% and its ratings among adults 25 to 54 rise 7%, per Nielsen, year to date.

Under a recent corporate restructuring at NBCUniversal, Bravo is now under the supervision of Bonnie Hammer, chairman of the cable-entertainment group and a respected programmer in the TV industry who is behind the rise of sister outlets like USA and SyFy. Bravo’s rise took palce under the eye of Lauren Zalaznick, who in February was given oversight of the company’s digital properties while Hammer’s aegis was expanded to include all of NBCU’s entertainment-focused cable networks.

In a brief interview, Bravo’s top executive, Frances Berwick, said she didn’t believe viewers would notice any change in the look of the network’s programming. While Bravo, Style, Oxygen and E! all skew female, they all hone in on particular demographics, she said. “I think we all stay in our lanes,” said Berwick, who is president of operations for Bravo and Style.

Bravo executives confirmed new-season orders for “Flipping Out,” “Tabatha Takes Over,” “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles,” “Top Chef Masters” and “Million Dollar Listing New York.” Other network mainstays that will return include the “Real Housewives” series, with the New York, Atlanta, Beverly Hills and Miami editions all intact. “Watch What Happens Live,” and “Inside the Actors Studio” will also both return.

Bravo will introduce some new docuseries  including an ambitious effort called “Newlyweds: The First Year.” The show followed four couples from their “I do” moment to their first anniversary, with Lauren Lazin capturing it all.

“Southern Charm” looks at the modern-day aristocracy of Charleston, South Carolina. “Extreme Guide to Parenting” focuses on households with  unorthodox but hard-core beliefs about raising children. “Thicker Than Water: The Tankards” offers a look at former basketball pro-turned-gospel singer Ben Tankard and his blended family and their efforts to expand his ministry. “Princesses: Long Island” is more or less what you might expect – a look at six young women from Great Neck, Long Island, who move back to their parents’ estates.

Other new series include “Below Deck,” a look at “yachties” who live and work together on a privately owned yacht; “Divorce Diva,” a series centered on an outspoken divorce mediator, Vikki Ziegler; and “Two Fit Girls,” which depicts two web entrepreneurs trying to grow their digital fitness venture.

Bravo said it has three scripted projects in development. These include: “Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce, a one-hour dramedy based on a book series that chronicles a newly separated author starting single life in her 40s; “Heiresses,” a one-hour drama that follows a wealthy family whose  fortune is built on the diamond trade and which must navigate through a possible family curse; and “High and Low,” a 1980s period drama seen through the eyes of two rival brothers who open a popular restaurant together.

Bravo will launch three transmedia vehicles that involve multiple stories that take place across various forms of media. The first will be part of “Top Chef Masters,” and will feature a digital competition that runs parallel to the show and which can affect the outcome of the series. Bravo plans to run “The Real Housewives Awards,” which will let fans vote on categories such as “Best Heels” and “Hottest Hubby” across all editions of the popular series.

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