Saturday, February 19, 2011

Broadcast Network Trend: Being The Brand!

Broadcast and Cable Outlets Supplement Ad Revenue By Becoming Their Own Brands.

There is a fascinating trend going on in the world of broadcasting.  Networks are recognizing that their own names and logos have market value that goes beyond merely attracting viewers.  This isn't just a theory, as manufacturers of products are paying real dollars to carry the trademarks of outlets like E! Entertainment, Style and The Food Network.  If you analyze it for a minute, it actually makes sense.

Before cable came along, there were a limited number of broadcast outlets in each market.  This is because the signals all traveled through the air, and there were a limited number of frequencies to carry different broadcast channels.  With the advent and expansion of cable, viewers came to have many more choices.  And when digital cable came along, this expanded again.  And now with online media moving to the television set through AppleTV, GoogleTV, etc. etc., the number of choices is officially infinite.

In a universe of many choices, it is necessary for each outlet to focus on a niche in order to survive.  It happened in the magazine business first -- where the newsstand went from carrying a relative handful of broad interest publications to carrying hundreds of very specialized publications.  That is the same pattern that emerged as more and more cable stations came on line -- each station worked to be a leader with its own special audience.

In focusing on a particular niche and becoming the leading source of information and programming with a particular group of consumers, a media outlet develops independent credibility that goes beyond the programming or ads that it carries. People start to think of themselves as liking to watch The Food Network, as opposed to just being a fan of Guy Fieri or Ace of Cakes.  The network itself begins to stand for something -- it becomes a brand.  

So, in a logical and intelligent response to competition, broadcast and cable outlets have positioned themselves as having a particular meaning with a specific audience.  Once that is successfully accomplished, it only makes sense to capitalize by "lending" that credibility to other products -- for a price, of course.

I actually think I like this trend.  It allows broadcast outlets to supplement their income without selling more ads or putting cans of Coke and other products in the middle of every show.  It is an indicator of successful marketing and perhaps even helpful to consumers in identifying products which are consistent with their own tastes and interests.  Bravo!  

(That last line was funny, you see...because Bravo is the name of a network... and the post was about names of networks... funny, right?   Ok, sorry.  You're right.  That was a bad pun.)

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