So maybe it's not surprising that last week the 29-year-old network bowed to the inevitable and finally scraped the legend "Music Television" off its corporate logo.
The change was a belated acknowledgment of what has been obvious for years:
But the shift is significant because, in an era of rapid technological change and microscopic attention spans, how networks identify themselves matters more than ever, experts say.
And he should know. Last summer, his network underwent a controversial name change, from the Sci-Fi Channel to Syfy, a made-up word that Twitter users said looked more like the name of a mop or a gossip magazine than that of a cable network. One newspaper called it the "dumbest rebranding ever."
But Howe says the name change has reenergized the network and sharpened its identity. Because it referred to a well-established genre, "sci-fi" could not be trademark-protected, an important consideration for a network looking to establish a distinctive identity. Also, he said, sci-fi evoked images of "space, aliens and the future," turning off some viewers and advertisers.
"We totally expected there to be a backlash from core sci-fi fans," Howe said. But the shift has "far exceeded our expectations . ... It's opened up the network to a broader range of viewers" and helped boost ratings.
For its part,
Other networks have gone much further. In 2003,
Often, outlets extensively overhaul programming — and chase higher ratings — without changing their names at all.
Over the years, Bravo has moved away from foreign and art movies and reinvented itself as an outpost of such hip reality shows as "Queer Eye" and "Top Chef." A&E's now-defunct fine-arts shows, such as "Breakfast With the Arts," are a far cry from "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" and the other decidedly un-artsy reality shows that now rule the channel.
Howe says the generic names — Music Television, Sci-Fi,
"It's too old-fashioned," he said. "You might as well be called Milk or Gas."
Kalb said he often tests students to see whether they recognize the
But other analysts, while conceding the importance of brands, wonder whether such marketing concepts will matter in what might be shaping up as a post-network age.
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