MIPCOM ’13: Bravo’s Berwick talks scripted strategy

Bravo and Oxygen Media president Frances Berwick (pictured) and Facebook VP of partnerships Dan Rose kicked off this year's MIPCOM with keynote talks that touched on their respective strategies for the near future.
October 7, 2013

U.S. cable network Bravo’s move into scripted programming is part of a strategy to build longevity in its programming catalog.

During a keynote discussion with NBCUniversal International chairman Kevin MacLellan at MIPCOM on Monday (October 7), Bravo and Oxygen Media president Frances Berwick (pictured above) said scripted series are the logical next step in the reality-heavy cable network’s evolution.

“We feel like scripted is a way to create more longevity,” she said, explaining that such series tend to last longer and sell better in the international market place than unscripted programs. “There’s something about reality series that makes them very ephemeral. The audience for them can be very fickle. A lot comes and goes very quickly, although some burn very bright.”

Bravo ranks among the top 10 U.S. cable nets among the adults 18-49 and 25-54 demographics. During the third quarter, the network averaged just below 1 million viewers – up 12% on the same period last year. Its hits include the Top Chef, Million Dollar Listing and Real Housewives franchises.

Berwick added that the network has sought to diversify its portfolio of reality competition and docu-series over the past year with more topical and interactive live talk shows aimed at viewers that watch TV while using social media and mobile devices.

The network’s latest social media-targeted offering is The People’s Couch, which premiered on Sunday (October 9). Based on the UK format Gogglebox, the three-episode social series turns the camera on couch-bound viewers to capture their reactions to key moments on TV shows such as Scandal and The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

In more traditional fare, Bravo has ordered a second season of Newlyweds: The First Year, a docuseries that follows six couples from their wedding day to their one-year anniversary.

As the network develops scripted programming, it will increasingly compete with non-linear streaming services such as Netflix.

“That creates a very, very competitive marketplace because creative talent wants to do that,” she said, noting that Netflix has not yet made significant forays into unscripted. “The next phase we’ll be seeing is what the opportunities are for unscripted.”

Berwick’s talk was part of MIPCOM’s Media Mastermind Keynotes, which kicked off this year’s conference. Other speakers on Monday included Facebook VP of partnerships Dan Rose, who announced that more networks have signed up for the beta version of two new application programming interfaces (APIs) designed to give content creators real-time conversation data around a certain topic.

Networks can use the APIs to display public posts of real-time activity about a given topic into broadcasts and access demographic data around mentions of television programs or products, for example. The social media giant has also rolled out hashtags and a trending topics feature.

New companies using the beta version of the APIs include Discovery Networks International, Food Network UK, Canal+ and TFI in France, U.S. cable net Travel Channel and Germany’s ProSiebenSat.1.

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.