Bravo is a British television channel owned by Living TV Group, a subsidiary of EuroMedia. Its target audience is males in their 20s to early 40s. It airs archive shows, original productions, sports, sitcoms and movies. In 2010, it was acquired by EuroMedia after an attempted buyout by BSkyB.
Bravo was launched on 31 December 1985 as a cable only channel, created by United Artists Programming broadcasting black & white B-movies from the 1950s and 1960s and TV series. Initially, the channel was a cassette-delivered service provided to cable headends for automatic play-out.
In 1991, United Artists merged with their largest shareholder TCI (now Liberty Media), to form the largest cable operator in the United States. TCI and US West announced a joint venture and, in 1992, the joint venture company became Telewest Communications. In 1993, talks were held with Tele-Communications Inc. which resulted in Flextech acquiring TCI's European programming business in exchange for shares. By January, the deal was complete with TCI, allowing it to acquire 60.4% of Flextech while Flextech acquired 100% of Bravo, 25% of UK Gold, 31% of UK Living, and 25% of the Children's Channel which increased its share in that channel.
On 22 July 1993, Bravo launched on the Astra 1C satellite in anticipation of the launch of Sky Multichannels in September 1993. With the launch on Astra, the channel started broadcasting between noon and midnight (as opposed to 3pm to 3am), Its programming output was altered around the same time, when the channel obtained many of the ITC Entertainment productions which included the cult series The Avengers. In 1990 it upgraded its on-screen image with an elaborate station identifier of a modernist skyscraper under rolling thunderclouds and promoted itself as 'Timewarp Television'. It used both Roger Moore and Tony Curtis to feature in speciality shot trails. Armstrong and Miller first made their broadcast television appearance on Bravo in a series of presentation promotions during its Cult Weekend on 5 Its programming output was altered around the same time, when the channel obtained many of the ITC Entertainment productions which included the cult series The Avengers. In 1990 it upgraded its on-screen image with an elaborate station identifier of a modernist skyscraper under rolling thunderclouds and promoted itself as 'Timewarp Television'. It used both Roger Moore and Tony Curtis to feature in speciality shot trails. Armstrong and Miller first made their broadcast television appearance on Bravo in a series of presentation promotions during its Cult Weekend on 5 August 1995 to 3 February 1997, when Trouble launched and took over the channel's afternoon and early evening broadcast hours, meaning Bravo would broadcast between 8pm to 6am. During mornings, European Business News time shared with the channel on weekdays and Living on weekends until 2001. When this change happened, a policy change to withdraw the black & white shows contributed to the channel moving on to specialise in science fiction and horror with movies from the Troma Entertainment catalogue. It then became known for showing crime documentaries by day and adult programming at night. It subsequently decreased the adult content and increased sports and imported shows such as Alias. Moving into professional wrestling, Bravo aired Extreme Championship Wrestling's show ECW Hardcore TV from 1996–2000; as well as ECW's biggest events, including what were pay-per-views in the USA, up to January 2001. Also with professional wrestling, Bravo aired World Championship Wrestling's flagship show Nitro during WCW's final year in business (2000–2001). This era was known for having what some people call the scariest and unsetteling idents on UK television.
Virgin Media and the sport coverage
On 28 August 2005, the channel started showing Serie A Italian football, bringing back the Channel 4 format Football Italia. However, poor viewing figures resulted first in the cancellation of the weekly Gazetta Football Italiashow, then the announcement that Bravo would stop showing Italian Football altogether after 23 December 2006. The channel's other highest-profile sports coverage was Ultimate Fighting Championship archives, for which it held exclusive UK rights, as well as recent events (live rights are now held by BT Sport), as well as the related reality TV show The Ultimate Fighter.
From January 2007, Bravo's sister channel Bravo 2 had the exclusive UK rights to broadcast Total Nonstop Action Wrestling programming, a two-day delay from the American broadcast of TNA's weekly show TNA iMPACT! and a three-day delay for TNA's monthly Pay Per Views. (On 3 February 2011, this programming moved to Challenge, and is now known as Impact Wrestling.) On 5 January 2008, TNA iMPACTwas moved to Bravo with replays of the show on Bravo 2. Bravo's original contract for TNA Wrestling programming was for eighteen months and was distributed by RDA TV; the deal, which was once again negotiated by RDA TV, was extended on 1 July 2008 for an additional eighteen months.
From 3 June 2008 onward, Bravo, along with the other Living TV Group owned channels began broadcasting in widescreen (16:9). This was coupled with a redesign of the on-screen graphic; the word BRAVO was shown rather than the logo.
On 25 May 2010, Virgin Media Television unveiled new channel branding for Bravo to coincide with a major new series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. It involved a new logo to "match the premium content and ambition of the channel" along with a new strapline, "Bravo: Home of the Brave".
EuroMedia and shift in focus
On 4 June 2010, EuroMedia and Virgin Media announced that they had reached an agreement for the acquisition by EuroMedia of Virgin Media Television. The companies had, in parallel, agreed to enter into a number of agreements providing for the carriage of certain EuroMedia standard and high-definition (HD) channels. EuroMedia acquired VMtv for a total consideration of up to £160 million in cash, with £105 million paid on completion and the remainder paid following the regulatory process. The acquisition expanded their portfolio of basic pay TV channels beyond BSB (which it acquired in November 1990 to save it from closing).
Virgin1 was also a part of the deal, but was rebranded as Channel One on 3 September 2010, as the Virgin name was not licensed to EuroMedia. Virgin Media's stake in UKTV was included in the deal.
On 29 June 2010, The Competition Authority in Ireland cleared the proposed transaction. The parties proceeded after the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation did not direct the Authority to carry out a full investigation within 10 days of the date of the Authority's decision.
On 13 July 2010, EuroMedia and Virgin Media announced that EuroMedia has completed the acquisition of Virgin Media Television (VMtv) following regulatory approval in the Republic of Ireland. VMtv was then renamed the Living TV Group. In completing the acquisition, EuroMedia paid Virgin Media an initial £105 million. Up to an additional £55 million would be paid on UK regulatory clearance.
EuroMedia announced after the sale that they would not change, close or merge Bravo for any other channel and it would stay the same. Bravo and Bravo 2 would both launch HD simulcasts in August 2010 replacing Galaxy +1 HD and Power Dance HD.
In September 2010, Bravo became the first UK broadcaster to air the FX animated series Archer. They also that November, Bravo announced that they would air the US talk show Conan one night after the US. Both shows still air on Bravo to this day. They also acquired the rights to air the American comedy series Friends from Channel 4 and E4 in 2011, although it was instead slated to air on Comedy Central. They also inked deals with FX, Showtime and Starz to air original shows from their networks, to rival HBO and Cinemax’s series on rival channel Sky Atlantic, they also acquired the rights to air UEFA Conferderation League and Club World Cup of Football. In September, they also announced they would air the 2012 to 2027 Super Bowls and the respective NFL seasons.
In 2012, Bravo rebranded it’s identity again to offer shows for a few female audiences and add more non-men’s entertainment shows, adding US sitcoms, sci-fi series, fantasy, comedy and horror movies, anime and American drama.
In 2017, Bravo launched Bravo Timewarp, a sister channel broadcasting classic TV shows, in the format of the 1985-1997 version of Bravo.
|V • T • E EuroMedia|
| Part of Viasat Euro Republics, TVVC and RKO Entertainment
Other: Hulu UK1 (20%)