HD No Go for New Bravo

MediaWorks’ Bravo facelift for Four won’t extend to an HD makeover.

The broadcaster today confirmed the new channel, which will replace Four in July, will be SD only.

That’ s not surprising given the wall-to-wall reality schedule will be of niche appeal only in the free-to-air world (in other markets its reach is limited to pay-TV).

But the good news for HD fans is some Four staples will graduate to TV3, ranging from comedies like New Girl and Fresh Off the Boat to children’s shows.

However, there will only be a handful of these as Four has been increasingly dominated by reality and movies since the loss of key Fox shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Indeed, some of Four’ existing series, like Top Chef and Million Dollar Listing, will continue on Bravo.

While it’s exciting to see a Hollywood heavyweight partner with a local broadcaster to create a themed channel, even in SD, it’s a pity the NBCUniversal International Networks deal relates to Bravo and not one of its movie or mystery services (like Studio Universal or 13th Street).

The Bravo announcement coincides with an avalanche of bad press about the running of MediaWorks and the loss of top talent, with Hilary Barry being the latest to announce her exit.

Here’s today’s press release in full:

Auckland – May 3, 2016 – MediaWorks and NBCUniversal International Networks today announced the formation of a joint venture (JV), which will transform channel FOUR into leading entertainment-lifestyle brand Bravo, in July 2016.

Bravo New Zealand will become the premier destination for premium unscripted programming, focused on the brand’s unique passion points of glam, design, food and pop culture.

Some of the most popular international franchises will call Bravo home, including: Million Dollar Listing (New York & Los Angeles), Top Chef (Duels, Masters, Just Desserts & All Stars) and The Real Housewives. In addition, popular series Vanderpump Rules, Flipping Out, Southern Charm, Shahs of Sunset and Made in Chelsea will form part of the programming line-up.

New series premieres in 2016 include Tour Group, Below Deck: Mediterranean, Après Ski, The Real Housewives of Potomac and The Real Housewives of Dallas.

As part of the announcement, Bravo made the exciting revelation that it has commissioned The Real Housewives of Auckland, the local version of the global smash-hit franchise.

For the past five months, NBCUniversal International Studios’ production company Matchbox Pictures – responsible for creating the popular The Real Housewives of Melbourne – has been searching for New Zealand’s very own group of privileged ladies keen to showcase their fabulous lives to the world. The series will premiere in August 2016, exclusive to Bravo.

Bravo New Zealand will be headquartered at MediaWorks’ Mount Eden offices.

Mark Weldon, Group Chief Executive Officer, MediaWorks commented: “MediaWorks is thrilled to be entering into a partnership with NBCUniversal International Networks for a new free- to-air channel in New Zealand. NBCUniversal is one of the most famous of all entertainment brands and a deep, genuine relationship beyond simply purchasing content is of high value to MediaWorks.”

“The Bravo brand has been one of NBCU’s breakout successes of the last decade. It has a coveted advertiser audience with highly talk-able, engaging content that plays well on TV, and has substantial catch-up viewing audiences playing well into the binge-watching trends of our time.

“The fact that this is the first free-to-air partnership globally, and the first new free-to-air channel that NBCU has launched outside of the US, makes this an especially ground-breaking relationship.”

“We are delighted to introduce one of the most popular TV brands in the U.S. to New Zealand – and we look forward to partnering with Mark and the MediaWorks team to bring this exciting channel to life,” commented Chris Taylor, MD, New Zealand and Australia, NBCUniversal International Distribution & Networks.

“With programming that inspires, informs and entertains, Bravo is a brand that we know will resonate well with New Zealanders – both viewers and advertisers, alike.”

“Asia-Pacific is an important growth region for NBCUniversal International and we are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to invest further in New Zealand,” commented Belinda Menendez, President, NBCUniversal International Distribution & Networks.

“Having enjoyed a long-standing, strong relationship with MediaWorks, we are excited to expand our relationship in order to bring Bravo – a premier free-to-air entertainment-lifestyle channel – to the market.”

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