Bravo Adds Fifth Night of Original Programming

In advance of its Wednesday night upfront presentation, NBC Universal’s Bravo announced it is adding a fifth night of original programming, a move that presents the network with an opportunity to add a dash of scripted color to its signature reality/competition palette.

The new night will boost Bravo’s original programming hours by 20 percent.

At present, Bravo programs original fare Mondays through Thursdays. While the network has not made a final decision as to which night will serve as its newest programming launch pad, it’s likely that Bravo executive vp and general manager Frances Berwick will shoot for Sundays, as they offer the highest HUT levels of the available three.

Two nights are currently structured around themes. Wednesday prime is devoted to competition series like Top Chef, while Thursday nights play host to Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise.

As Bravo preps its new lineup, the net has taken the wraps off of its development slate, introducing five new unscripted pilots and a pair of scripted efforts. Among the unscripted projects in the hopper are: the culinary competition strip Around the World in 80 Plates; the sing-for-your-supper battle Hitmakers; and Mia Michaels, a standalone effort built around the So You Think You Can Dance choreographer.

On the scripted side of the ledger, Bravo is tinkering with Room Service, a one-hour comedy/drama hybrid about a posh hotel that runs a male escort service on the side, and I’m Not Myself These Days, a Darren Star adaptation of Josh Kilmer-Purcell’s 2006 memoir about leading a double life as an ad agency grunt-cum-drag queen.

In addition to its development slate, Bravo announced it has picked up a new Real Housewives skein (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills). Also on track for 2010 are: Miami Social Club, Million Dollar Decorators and Pregnant in Heels.

Bravo heads into the upfront with a brisk wind at its back. In the midst of a devastating economic downturn, the network increased its yearly ad sales revenue by 19 percent versus 2008. (Per SNL Kagan estimates, Bravo took in more than $200 million in ad sales dollars a year ago.) Moreover, the channel saw its primetime deliveries grow 8 percent in 2009, averaging 494,000 viewers 18-49.

“Bravo’s continued success is driven by our track record of creating pop culture hits that allow us to make real connections with our audience … which in turn make our media dollars work better,” said Susan Malfa, senior vp of ad sales, Bravo Media and Oxygen Media. “The innovative path that we’ve been on [throughout] the past year has allowed us to create off-channel opportunities with direct consumer connections, which is another outlet to showcase the proof of result when working with Bravo.”