What’s in a name: Do MTV, History, and TLC have branding issues?

Honey Boo Boo

As I was checking out the Facebook page for the History channel I came across a thread of comments that blew me away in regards to a share of the teaser for the upcoming season of Ax Men. Over and over and over again the same sentiment was shared in slightly different ways… “Why doesn’t the History channel show stuff about history anymore?”

It’s a fair point to make but it was the repetition and man I mean endless sameness that took me by surprise. It’s apparent that as the network has morphed into one that airs much more reality programming, often highly rated and profitable shows, that it’s no longer just about “history” and thus has itself a branding issue.

I was then reminded of a couple of comments I’ve seen a bunch of times that are akin to the ones above but with MTV and TLC as the focus. “Music Television doesn’t show music anymore,” and, “There isn’t any learning going on with The Learning Channel.” Once again valid arguments, but I would assume it’s understood that these are businesses and that they’re making programming decisions mostly based on ratings…

For better or for worse, numbers don’t lie as they say and so it goes that as trends have changed and the demands of viewers shift, MTV isn’t about the music, TLC isn’t about the learning and History isn’t just about broadcasting historical stuff. Viewership is the main factor in deciding what defines a network that bases its income from advertising dollars.

This brings up another interesting question. Are the complaints as much about the perceived lack of quality in the programming as much as they’re about not falling under the umbrella of that particular network’s name? For example, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and Mad Men aren’t classic American movies the last time I checked but there they are completely defining AMC.

Via Wikipedia:

The channel’s name originally stood for “American Movie Classics,” but since 2002 the full name has been deemphasized as a result of a major shift in its programming.

If you visit AMC’s Facebook page there are hardly any complaints about those original and scripted shows not being movies. The only thread of comments I found similar to the ones above was when they tried to promote Steven Seagal Week and THAT brought out some folks wondering if they were using the word “classic” a little loosely.

So what’s in a name? It’s an interesting question when it comes to evolving, or devolving if that’s your take, cable networks. And no, the irony isn’t lost on me that this post fails to mention any “stars”  (except Seagal of course).

So what’s your take? Do you think these networks should change their names to better reflect their current programming or change their current programming to better reflect their name?

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