Magazine article Marketing

Media Analysis: Is It the End for Channel Brands?

Magazine article Marketing

Media Analysis: Is It the End for Channel Brands?

Article excerpt

Flagship TV shows can be valuable properties, but the benefit to a broadcaster's brand is less clear.

ITV's intention to boost its programme marketing department reflects a growing focus on flagship TV programmes and the fact that they can become high-earning brands in their own right. From 24, which has spawned its own energy drink brand, to the multi-platform extravaganza of The X Factor - the brand power of individual shows has never been higher. Rival broadcasters have even suggested that it will not be long before the programme franchise CSI is worth more than ITV itself.

There are risks, however. Broadcasters have to pay more for flagship programme acquisitions and invest huge amounts to promote them, only to potentially lose them to rival channels.

Mark Newton, executive vice-president of Fremantle Licensing Worldwide EMEA, says the global value of shows such as American Idol and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire can be greater than that of the broadcasters that air them, which creates a natural tension. 'There can definitely be something of a love and hate relationship with broadcasters, particularly when it comes to rights and retention, but broadcasters are taking a much more holistic approach and collaboration is increasing,' says Newton.

David Pemsel, marketing director at ITV, believes the ultimate aim for ITV Productions is to create a show enabling the broadcaster to own the rights and franchises from the outset. This would also eliminate the risk of the show jumping ship to another broadcaster.

Achieving the right balance between programme and channel marketing is tricky, however, says Alex Lewis, director of marketing and communications at Sky Networks. 'From a strategic point of view we pick programmes that fit with our channel brand, but the main thing to remember is that consumers watch programmes not channels.'

Sky One picked up flagship shows Lost and Prison Break from Channel 4 and Five respectively, and then invested in marketing them. 'With the 'Lost now found on Sky One' campaign we really bolted the show to the Sky One brand and leveraged the strength of the programme brand,' adds Lewis.

Many programme directors believe there is a benefit in acquiring cult shows from the beginning - not least for the kudos it brings the channel for having invested in and discovered new content. Examples include Hallmark, which brought House to the UK, and the Sci Fi channel, which acquired cult show Heroes, now screening on BBC Two.

Maya Bhose, marketing director of Sparrowhawk NBC Universal, says that losing shows to rival broadcasters is par for the course. …

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