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CES Report: Bravo Says Social is a Must for Online Video Creators

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"The social piece is  a must-have now," said Lisa Hsia, head of digital for Bravo, at an International CES Digital Hollywood panel called "Content for the New Platforms." Digital Hollywood offers a series of CES conferences that are essential watching for those who care about the intersection of content and technology.

Bravo is finding that social interactions are crucial not just for branding, but also for growing a show. Hsia gave an example of a "Top Chef" online initiative where fans could vote to save a contestant. Because of messages that the chefs themselves sent during the show's broadcast, the area took on a life of its own where viewers were able to get in touch with the show's stars. Those kinds of successes help a network grow a property with social.

Creating online content also means creating deeper relationships with brands and developing ways to provide engaging programs with brand messages woven in.

"We're all about branded advertising," said Hsia, who addressed the opportunities and challenges of working with brands to create rich second-screen experiences. "You want to market and grow your show, but also create a whole ‘nother revue stream."

One of the challenges for Hsia and her team is bringing an untested idea to an agency. Brands are risk averse, so often they're not willing to go with an online concept that hasn't been tested before. The best results come, she said, when Bravo and a brand have a history, and that brand is willing to take a chance on a new opportunity.

"It's a very touchy issue how you work in brands," Hsia said. Networks don't want to alienate fans with ad overload or with ads in unwanted places. For the moment, Bravo doesn't allow brands on its social networking channels. It saves those for the fans, even though brands would strongly like to have a presence there. Bravo is looking for "sideways" solutions, Hsia said, but she isn't sure how that will evolve.

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