- The most explosive season of Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules” ended last week.
- Content creators who capitalized on #Scandoval are trying to keep the momentum up as the drama winds down.
- Betches Media’s Bravo vertical is rewatching old episodes on its podcast among other strategies to engage fans.
The most explosive season of Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules” — and perhaps in the history of the network — came to a close last week and many fans have been wondering how to move on. For the cottage industry of creators surrounding Bravo content, the question is how to build on it.
The world of “Vanderpump Rules” was rocked in March when longtime cast member Ariana Madix discovered her partner of nine years, Tom Sandoval, had been having an affair with one of her close friends, Raquel Leviss.
The cheating scandal, dubbed #Scandoval, was unique for the steady trickle of information that came out in the weeks after, in the press, from cast members dishing on podcasts and in interviews, and on the show itself. It gave the drama legs that Madix and Bravo were able to capitalize on; brands lined up to partner with Madix, and the show in its 10th season became the most-watched cable series to date this year among 18 to 49-year-olds and the fastest-growing unscripted series among that demo.
Content creators got in on #Scandoval, too. Bravo commentators, personalities, and fans scoured past episodes for breadcrumbs on when the affair began, vetted rumors, shared hot takes, and posted memes.
One Bravo-focused account seized the #Scandoval moment and gained 44,000 Instagram followers
Bravo by Betches, an Instagram account devoted to all things Bravo from Betches Media, had its biggest growth month ever during March. It notched 25,300 new followers that month, and gained 44,000 from March through early June, the company told Insider. The account, launched in 2019, now has about 322,000 followers.
“Nothing has ever, I would say, lasted this long with this intensity for just a scandal or something that two people did,” Sami Sage, Betches Media’s cofounder and chief creative officer, said of her time following Bravo.
While growth has slowed since peak #Scandoval, the women’s media company has managed to sustain some of the Vanderpump bump.
Its Bravo-obsessed podcast “Mention It All,” which currently ranks No. 7 among “after shows” on the US Apple podcast charts, jumped to No. 1 on June 16, per Chartable. That was just as the latest season of “Vanderpump Rules” finished airing, and when the podcast released a “rewind” episode recapping Madix’s first appearance on the series in 2013. (It also scored a bit of viral marketing when Daisy Kelliher from “Below Deck: Sailing Yacht” wore a “Mention It All” hat in a June episode of the show that aired the same day she appeared on the podcast.)
The rewatch episodes are one of the ways Betches is trying to build on its recent momentum and keep all those new followers coming back, the company told Insider.
The social account — run by Dylan Hafer, who is Betches’ director of social, entertainment and also hosts the Bravo podcast — has found success with a mix of memes, funny commentary, behind-the-scenes info, and gossip. It’s also leaned into amplifying posts from Bravo personalities themselves, a strategy that came into focus during #Scandoval as cast members reacted on social media to the drama that had started unfolding after the show stopped filming.
“The cast was engaging with the story and putting their own narrative on it and posting on social media and being really active and responsive,” said Hafer, a self-proclaimed Bravoholic. “That tipped off that this was a really landmark moment” the Bravo community was reacting to and processing in real time.
Building the ‘Bravo economy’
Betches, which focuses on pop culture at a large, also found that #Scandoval resonated with audiences beyond the typical Bravo niche. The Bravo vertical has collaborated with the main Betches account, which has 8.9 million followers on Instagram and 1 million on TikTok, on several posts tied to “Vanderpump Rules” including memes that could engage people who don’t watch the show.
The Bravo-focused account is looking next to events like the new season of “Real Housewives of Orange County,” the reboot of “Real Housewives of New York,” and BravoCon in November.
But, more broadly, the last few months showed Betches how crucial it is to be reactive and adaptive. Before #Scandoval, the audience for “Vanderpump Rules” had been waning and Bravo by Betches wasn’t posting about the show as much. It pivoted when it became clear the drama was consuming the Bravo community.
“lt’s always just kind of finding the thread that people are going to keep up with,” Hafer said. “Whether it’s an episode that aired that week or something somebody posted on their TikTok or their Instagram story that could be a really great piece of content to pull out and amplify to our followers.”
The challenge for content creators and media companies in the “Bravo economy,” as Sage called it, is that the jaw-dropping events that activate Bravo audiences are often unpredictable — ergo, tough to monetize, though Betches has tried with efforts like repromoting the Bravo-inspired merch in its online shop.
“It’s the closest thing that women’s media or women’s entertainment has to sports,” said Sage of reality TV. “The disadvantage with something like this is that you can’t schedule it. You can’t plan for it. You can’t sell a sponsorship package ahead of time for a TBD cheating scandal that blows up.”
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