Media Lifeline: Bravo

Neither 'weird' programming, Italian football nor cage fighting was enough to save the channel from the chop.

January 1997: Owned by Flextech, Bravo had launched in the mid-80s on the UK's nascent cable networks - and it became one of the pioneers of the multichannel revolution triggered by the growth of BSkyB in the 90s. In 1997, it attempts to create a distinctive brand positioning for itself as an "edgy and bizarre" channel. A high-profile marketing campaign, courtesy of WCRS, asks potential viewers: "Are you weird enough to watch?"

September 2005: But Bravo determines to propel itself further towards the mainstream by acquiring the rights to show Italian Serie A football. To honour the launch, Bravo temporarily rebrands itself as Bravissimo. The football wheeze is short-lived: Bravo drops it the next year.November 2008...

Following the merger of Flextech and NTL to form Virgin Media, the new outfit had been sending mixed signals about its long-term commitment to its content brands. Virgin Media then attempted to play hardball with Sky and rumours started that it was looking to sell. However, when the Sky dispute ends in November 2008, Virgin Media makes all the right noises about being committed to the content business.

June 2010: But it's no real surprise when Sky announces that it's to buy Virgin Media Television (including Living, Challenge and Virgin1, as well as Bravo, now a macho action channel branding itself as the "Home of the Brave") from Virgin Media for £160 million. Sky reveals that the division is to be renamed Living TV Group but can't take active control of the assets until it has obtained full regulatory clearance from the Office of Fair Trading.

September 2010: This clearance duly arrives. Virgin1 (which had been renamed Channel One) is to be closed, as is Bravo. However, Bravo's main star, the cage fighter Alex Reid - who presents Alex Reid Fights Back - is likely to move to one of the main Sky channels.

Fast forward

August 2011: And you can't keep a TV legend down for long - now Bravo rises from the ashes as an online and IPTV property. Backed by a consortium including Richard Desmond, it features Serie B football from Italy, female wrestling from New Delhi and a soap featuring a royal family comprised of body-snatching aliens. The channel's tagline is more familiar, though: "Seriously, are you weird enough to watch?"


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