For those not keeping track at home, after its fifth season the producers of Project Runway sought to take it from Bravo to Lifetime. Bravo objected and the matter was tied up in court for quite some time before an out of court settlement. Monday’s NY Times has Bravo execs making lemonade out of ratings lemons:
For the most part, it has not. The first six weeks of “The Fashion Show,” with Isaac Mizrahi and Kelly Rowland, have averaged slightly under one million viewers, despite heavy promotion by Bravo proclaiming that “competition is the new black.”
Given the nearly four million viewers for “Project Runway” in its fifth and final season on Bravo, the start of “The Fashion Show” appeared to be underwhelming.
Still, Bravo, a unit of NBC Universal, says it is satisfied with the ratings performance. “For a freshman series, it’s as good as we can ever hope for,” said Frances Berwick, the executive vice president and general manager of Bravo.
“Runway,” which will formally move to Lifetime on Aug. 20, lifted Bravo to new ratings heights when it started in 2004. The ratings for the first episodes were slight — fewer than a half million watched the initial episodes — but the program quickly gained momentum (in part because of frequent repeats) and finished the season with over two million viewers. “The Fashion Show” started with nearly a million viewers, and has not shown similar growth.
Ms. Berwick said the measures of success are “very different now” for Bravo. “The Fashion Show” made its debut during a busy season of new shows, while “Runway” started in the dead of winter. Also, the channel is home to a number of hit series now, including “The Real Housewives” franchise, making it less reliant on any one show.
“We’re not a one-hit network anymore,” she said.
Some of that’s certainly true. The Real Housewives series have done quite well for Bravo. However, the network would be in even better shape today if Runway had stayed put.