Meet the Makers: Q&A with Bravo Digital Media’s SVP Lisa Hsia

Feb 11, 2011
TV

How does Bravo TV make a top app of the of Top Chef franchise? Learn about the cable network’s foray into app development from Bravo Digital Media Senior Vice President Lisa Hsia in this edition of Meet the Makers. How long has Bravo TV developed applications for the iOS and Android platforms, and how many titles […]

How does Bravo TV make a top app of the of Top Chef franchise? Learn about the cable network’s foray into app development from Bravo Digital Media Senior Vice President Lisa Hsia in this edition of Meet the Makers.

How long has Bravo TV developed applications for the iOS and Android platforms, and how many titles do you currently have?

Bravo has six apps currently in the market that range from Bravo Now, a co-viewing companion app to games like Foodie Fight and Top Chef Fantasy to Guides by Bravo, a guide to the best food, shopping and nightlife. We’re currently only on the iOS platform, but moving to Android shortly.

What was the motivation for developing an app around the Top Chef series and describe the variations between the iPhone and iPad versions.

We’ve done several Top Chef apps and have another in the works. The first app was more of a marketing focus, tied to the fact that Top Chef was in Las Vegas that year, the second app is a game called Foodie Fight and you’ll have to wait and see what the next app is about. It’s much more social, revolves around fans’ passion for food and has a  great game mechanic. We’re still figuring out where iPhone and iPad versions should differ — I think it will vary app to app.

Can you preview other Bravo shows that will have iPhone apps associated with them?

You’ll see a new game from the Real Housewives coming out shortly. And more from Top Chef and Watch What Happens Live.

Describe the thought process behind developing mobile apps as complements to the cable programs.

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Developing apps for a cable TV brand has very much been an evolving process. We’re still trying to find the right balance between marketing and driving revenue. When the app store first opened, we wanted to get a utility that would be useful to Bravo fans, which is how Guides by Bravo evolved. This year we focused on Bravo Now, which is a co-viewing companion app specifically geared to engage fans around live viewing — a real-time water cooler, if you will. You can post via Facebook and Twitter, talk with Bravo-lebrities, get fun facts and bonus content in the form of blogs, video clips and photos. Now we’re testing games and seeing how much traction they get. All our apps have been free and we’ve been successful getting sponsorship around them, but we would love to build a case for paid apps as well.

What is your definition of a success (in terms of user response and overall downloads)?

Downloads, of course. And building apps that users truly like and find fun and engaging or useful.  I feel like we’re just at the very beginning of a definition of what the apps space can be, so I feel like we haven’t discovered or even imagined what apps can be. We discovered the viewing parties we feature on the Bravo Now app can lift on-air ratings by 10 percent because friends are posting real-time and that is causing their friends to turn the TV on. Who knew that apps would help drive TV ratings? It’s only the beginning of a revolution…

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How do you promote your apps outside of the app stores and your own network?

Bravo promotes our apps on every platform we have — you’ll see them promoted on-air, online, in our mobile clubs and on our wireless website…and through social media channels, of course. Unless people know the apps are out there, they won’t know to download it. I noticed at the DLD conference in Munich this week that author Paulo Coehlo  promoted his new book without any PR in Brazil and made the best seller list — solely using social networks. Marketing a product is in midst of a drastic change, just like digital.

Detail the importance of reaching out to blogs, review sites and social networks.

I recently wrote a piece for Mashable and was blown away by its real-time reach. Blogs, review sites and social networks are the most important piece of any outreach strategy in my view. It’s all about word-of-mouth from sources you trust.

How much, if at all, do you collaborate with other NBC Universal properties when developing mobile applications?

We do what’s best for Bravo and tend to be very forward-leaning and first movers because our users are early-adopters, tech savvy types. So more often than not, we’re adapting to their behaviors and not necessarily watching what others are doing. The scale and resources NBC Universal brings are invaluable as well, of course.

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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