July 8, 2005 -- 'BEING Bobby Brown," a reality show that follows the singer/former jailbird and diva wife Whitney Houston, may have cost Bravo close to $3 million, according to industry sources.
While the ratings for the series have been strong — only three episodes have aired so far, averaging about 1 million viewers — industry insiders wonder if the cable network will get its money's worth from the series.
"I suppose they might," says Dr. Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University's Center for the Study of Popular Television. "By buying this thing they seem to have been able to fill up 10,000 of their timeslots," he says, alluding to the show frequent repeats.
Yesterday, episodes of the show aired no less then 10 times on the channel that once marketed itself as the "Arts and Film Network."
A Bravo spokesman said the channel does not comment on its financial deals.
And network sources said that Bravo did not pay Brown and Houston directly.
One network insider said that although "Being Bobby Brown" was initially being sold for around $3 million — pitches are believed to have been brought to E! and VH1 — Bravo may have paid substantially less because no other networks were interested.
On the show, cameras follow Brown, Houston and their children as the couple — whose rocky marriage has included frequent bouts with substance abuse and Brown's recent incarceration — try to go about their daily lives.
While Brown comes off as outgoing and friendly, Houston is standoffish and angry when fans approach her, despite having a camera crew in tow and frequenting public places such as the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas
"Who would have thought that America's former top diva would play a second banana," says Thompson. "It reminds me of when you see a former big celebrity on a late night infomercial."
Yet some viewers can't seem to look away.
"It's like watching a car crash," writes a viewer going by the screen name FPV on a fan Web site.
"You cringe at seeing them and they acted like they are 16 years old. I feel so sorry for their daughter. I am sure she acts more mature than both of them together. They remind me of those relatives that everyone has in their family that they are embarrassed to have."