Survey: Network Brands Really Do Matter

Consumers may claim they don’t care which network carries the shows they want to watch, but branding still plays a key -- if slightly subliminal -- role in the choices they make, according to Hub Entertainment Research.

Citing info from past studies, Hub principals Jon Giegengack and Peter Fondulas told an audience at the Media Insights and Engagement Conference in Miami on Tuesday (Feb. 6) that 41% of consumers they surveyed said network branding doesn’t matter. But a deeper dive proved the opposite. The information was gleaned from online surveys of between 1,774 and 2,214 individuals aged 16-74 who watch at least 5 hours of TV per week.  

According to Hub, when given the chance to build their own bundle from a list of 52 networks participants proved extremely selective. For example, when told that money was no object, they chose just 19 of the 52 networks, with the four major broadcast networks, Netflix, HBO and ESPN topping the list. And when pricing information for each network was included, that number dropped further to just 9 of the 52 networks available, with Netflix on top followed by the four broadcasters, HBO and Amazon Video.

Branding played an even bigger role when participants were given descriptions of hypothetical TV shows across several genres, with interest varying dramatically depending on which network the show was on, Hub said. According to the study, Netflix generated the highest interest in a competitive reality show the researcher tested, even though the brand is not known for that genre. About 47% of participants were extremely or very interested in watching the reality show on Netflix, compared to 30% if it was on The Travel Channel.

Hub’s conclusion was that as consumers are faced with an ongoing deluge of content, it is critical that distributors give them access to brands they care about without forcing them to sift through the ones they don’t care about. The company cited Amazon Channels as one distributor that is following that line.

“These findings suggest that viewers have developed clear expectations for the kinds of viewing experience different brands—networks and SVODs—will deliver,” Giegengack said in a statement. “This new brand paradigm has wide reaching implications for brand marketing and distribution.”