Bravo (US TV Network)
|Launched||December 1, 1980|
Bravo Media, LLC|
|Headquarters||GE Building, New York City|
|C-Band - H2H/4DTV||
|Available on many cable systems||Check local listings for channels|
Bravo is an American basic cable and satellite television channel that is owned by NBCUniversal. Originally focused on programs pertaining to fine arts and film, the channel currently broadcasts a mix of reality series aimed primarily at females between the ages of 25 and 54 years old, along with acquired drama series and more mainstream theatrically released feature films.
Bravo's corporate offices are located at the GE Building in New York City. Andy Cohen, who also hosts Bravo's late night talk show Watch What Happens Live and created The Real Housewives franchise, serves the Senior Vice President of Production and Programming. As of June 2013, Bravo reaches over 95 million homes in the United States.
As of August 2013, approximately 94,129,000 American households (82.42% of households with television) receive Bravo.
Bravo originally launched as a commercial-free premium channel on December 1, 1980, it was originally owned by Cablevision's Rainbow Media division; the channel claimed to be "the first television service dedicated to film and the performing arts". The channel originally broadcast its programming two days a week, and shared its channel space with the adult-oriented pay channel Escapade, which featured softcore pornographic films. In 1981, Bravo was available to 48,000 subscribers throughout the United States; this total increased four years later to around 350,000 subscribers. A 1985 profile of Bravo in The New York Times observed that most of its programming consisted of international, classic, and independent film. Celebrities such as E. G. Marshall and Roberta Peters provided opening and closing commentary to the films broadcast on the channel.
Performing arts programs seen on Bravo included the show Jazz Counterpoint. During the mid-1980s, Bravo converted from a premium service into a basic cable channel, although it remained a commercial-free service. Bravo signed an underwriting deal with Texaco in 1992 and within a month broadcast the first Texaco Showcase production, a stage adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. By the mid-1990s, Bravo began to incorporate more PBS-style underwriting sponsorships, and then began accepting traditional commercial advertising by 1998.
In the Encyclopedia of Television, Megan Mullen perceived certain Bravo programs as "considered too risky or eclectic for mainstream channels". Those programs were Karaoke and Cold Lazarus, the final serials by British playwright Dennis Potter shown by Bravo in June 1997, and Michael Moore's documentary series The Awful Truth from 1999.
In 1999, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired a 20% stake in the channel, which it subsequently sold back to Rainbow Media in 2001. NBC bought the network in 2002 for $1.25 billion; it had owned a stake in the channel and its sister networks for several years up to that point. NBC's then-parent company General Electric merged the network, and its other broadcast and cable properties with Vivendi Universal Entertainment in May 2004 to form NBC Universal.
In the early 2000s Bravo switched its format from focusing on performing arts, drama, and independent film to being focused on pop culture such as reality shows, fashion and makeover shows, and celebrities. Bravo's "makeover" occurred in 2003 with the reality series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which garnered 3.5 million viewers. Entertainment Weekly put "Bravo reality shows" on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "From Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's Fab Five to Project Runway's fierce fashionistas to the kvetching, perma-tanned Real Housewives, Bravo's quirky reality programming mixes high culture and low scruples to create deliciously addictive television."
A study released in May 2008 ranked Bravo as the most recognizable brand among gay consumers. Bravo's age demographic is people 18-54, according to the Cable Television Advertising Bureau's cable television profiles.
Bravo's programming schedule primarily includes originally produced programming, particularly reality content, most popularly The Real Housewives and Inside the Actors Studio, as well as the Top Chef and Flipping Out franchises. The channel also airs reruns of series from parent network NBC and occasionally other NBCUniversal-owned networks; off-network series, including those from NBCUniversal Television Distribution; and feature films, primarily from the Universal Pictures catalog. Bravo utilizes block programming for both new shows and existing ones such as its "Fashion By Bravo" block.
Following its acquisition by NBC, Bravo began to supplement NBC Sports coverage of the Olympic Games, airing live events during the overnight and morning hours during the 2004 Summer Olympics; this coverage continued with the 2006 Winter Olympics. The channel carried no coverage during the 2008 games, as NBCUniversal had acquired Oxygen, allowing Bravo to continue to carry its regular programming schedule during NBC coverage of the Games. In 2012, the network served as the near-exclusive home for the Games's tennis tournament at Wimbledon, with up to 56 hours of coverage except for the men's and women's singles finals, which aired on NBC.
Bravo HD (known on-air as HD by Bravo in line with the network's imaging campaign) is a 1080i high definition simulcast feed of Bravo. It launched on October 3, 2007, with DirecTV as the first provider to carry it. It is also available on Dish Network, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, Cablevision, and some Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks systems.
It is Bravo's second high definition channel; the current Universal HD originally launched as Bravo HD+ in August 2003. Bravo HD+ had a completely different schedule than the main Bravo channel and aired only programs produced in HD. The current Bravo HD airs programs in both high definition and standard definition.
Relationship with international Bravo channels
An Australian channel called Arena rebranded its on-air presentation in 2008 to align with Bravo as a result of an agreement with Bravo Media. Arena uses the now-former Bravo slogan "Watch What Happens" and has access to Bravo-produced programming.
A Canadian version of Bravo was launched in 1995 by CHUM Limited. The channel originally aired much of the same genres of programming aired by its American counterpart. However, since Bravo U.S.'s shift towards reality programming, the Canadian Bravo channel began airing more dramas, and with its adoption of a new logo in 2012 with little semblance to Bravo U.S.'s current branding, there is now essentially no connection between the two channels other than a shared name. The channel still airs the few arts-related series aired by Bravo U.S. (such as Inside the Actors Studio and Work of Art), but due to Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulations which require the channel to still air programming related to arts, Bravo Canada does not air the vast majority of the U.S. channel's reality series – most of them have been picked up by Canadian specialty channels such as Slice.
In the United Kingdom, a television channel called Bravo launched in 1985 independently of the U.S. service. The British channel, which shut down on January 1, 2011, focused on men's programming for most of its existence, and never carried an arts or pop-culture format, nor much, if any, of the U.S. channel's programming.
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