Commentary

What's More Important: TV Brands Or Hits?

New TV hits are hard to come by. Are developing new TV “brands” a better bet?

“It’s really hard right now to make a huge hit,” says Nancy Daniels, Chief Brand Officer, Discovery and Factual, speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show. Daniels says the effort is to find new strong brands for Discovery Inc.

Tom Gorke, head of distribution of development, Viacom, agrees in part: “Brands act as a filter or a signpost for quality.” But behind that signpost? Deliver what you promise.

All this may run counter to the longtime TV industry yarn: People watch TV shows, not networks.

And that brings us to Netflix. Do Netflix subscribers think about the brand when binging on “Stranger Things” or “Orange is the New Black”? Perhaps.

Netflix “on-demand” mantra -- where TV programs are available at any time vs. a live basis -- works incredibly well in today’s environment. That a central tenet. Netflix doesn’t need live content since it believes, as many do, that live TV only really matters around sports and news content.

The argument of brand-over-program also goes to the idea of “safety” -- not just for consumers in finding shows they might like, but also for TV advertisers looking to safely run their media schedules, sans fraud, content-issues, accountability concerns and whatever can drop through the media industry’s cracks.

So how does one build those new brands?  Via “traditional” marketing means, social media (word of mouth), influencers, or other earned media exposure?

Think about the forthcoming young-skewing effort -- Quibi -- a mobile centric platform for mostly short videos -- from media and technology veterans Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman.

Even with a huge $1 billion in financing from investors backing the new platform, making this brand a big deal will be a long haul — especially getting young consumers to buy in.

On its site, Quibi describes itself this way: “Something cool is coming from Hollywood and Silicon Valley — quick bites of captivating entertainment, created for mobile by the best talent, designed to fit perfectly into any moment of your day.”

OK, but what is it? Certainly, not a brand yet.

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