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Reality TV shows make 2006 into Bravo's best ratings year ever

By Christopher Rocchio, 01/08/2007 

Bravo enjoyed its best ratings year ever in 2006, and the basic cable network has its reality TV programming to thank. 

Fueled by the success of reality hits like Project Runway, The Real Housewives of Orange County and Top Chef, Bravo shattered every single one of its previous on-air network records.  And not only did Bravo set new ratings highs in every key demographic, it did it with dominating double-digit year-over-year increases from the network's 2005 primetime ratings.

"To say we're pleased wouldn't do justice to our performance, 2006 was phenomenal," said Lauren Zalaznick, president of Bravo.  "It's incredibly gratifying to see our vision become a reality as more viewers than ever tune in to 'watch what happens.'"

Project Runway's third season broke multiple network records in 2006, including becoming the most-watched show in the network's 27-year history by drawing 5.6 million total viewers to its series finale. Overall, Runway's third season averaged a 3.30 household coverage rating with 3.62 million total viewers, up 110% from Project Runway 2's previous record.  Runway's third season also averaged 2.41 million viewers in the Adults 18-49 demographic, a 90% increase over the show's second edition.

The first season of Top Chef, the new Runway-like reality cooking competition that the network launched in 2006, ranked as the highest rated food series in all of cable television, averaging 1,273,000 viewers in the Adults 18-49 demographic during 2006. Top Chef's second season, which the network premiered in late October, also posted a 62% percent increase over its first installment in the Adults 18-49 demographic through its first eight episodes. Additionally, the program's second season ranked as Wednesday's number one cable series among Women 25-54, averaging 778,000 viewers in that demographic.

Bravo's The Real Housewives of Orange County docu-soap series generated a 186% increase for its season-one finale from the premiere among Adults 18-49, as well as a 127% increase in total viewers for the finale from its premiere in March.

Overall, Bravo's year-over-year 8PM to 11PM average primetime ratings grew 25% in the Adults 18-49 demographic, 22% in total households and 21% in total viewers -- more than any other fully distributed cable network that reaches more than 80 million households, according to Nielsen Media Research.  Bravo also scored big with younger viewers in 2006, resulting in the channel's youngest year ever for the 8PM to 11PM time period, attracting a median age of 43.1, down from 44.3 in 2005 and 52.2 in 2001.

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