When it comes to younger viewers, brands don't hold the same importance as they did for older generations, according to a panel at The Content Show at NYC Television Week on Wednesday.
“The audience is not necessarily as brand centric. They look at the actual content itself,” said Dawn Ostroff, president, Conde Nast Entertainment to moderator and Broadcasting & Cable editor-in-chief Melissa Grego. “What’s fascinating is what brings them in is really that one piece of content and then they come in and discover a lot of other things.”
Henry Schleiff, group president, Discovery Networks, and Courteney Monroe, CEO, National Geographic Channels U.S. joined them on the panel.
“I’ve had a conversation with my own child where she didn’t even know what one of the major television networks was because she watches everything on her tablet,” said Ostroff. “She didn’t know what ABC was.”
Schleiff emphasized the importance of programming in bringing in viewers to a brand.
“There are few people who can really grab you by your lapels and make you pay attention and take your breath away with an incredible beginning in television,” said Schleiff. “You’re sitting in your home with a remote control. What makes you stay past that first five minutes? What keeps you through that spot, which is important to the advertiser.”
Monroe talked about the value of National Geographic’s brand and the need to expand it.
“We’re not trying to blow up that brand. I don’t think that would be a smart thing to do because we are known for quality and that stands for something,” said Monroe. “With the unprecedented amount of choice that consumers have, I think having a strong brand is more important than ever. Brand serves as differentiators.”
Schleiff sees brand playing a key role for an audience who doesn’t watch programming on physical televisions. “What we know in the world of random access, and all of the platforms that are available now, is that good storytelling will travel. I think Nielsen, in its only accurate statement, said that the average person has 100-120 networks, but they’re still watching 8-12 networks. If we’re smart about it, we want to be one of those default networks.”
Other highlights from the session included:
— “It was WB and it was UPN, and at first we had all these really cool names that we were going to call this network and everyone of them sounded like it was a great Tech startup. We couldn’t clear any of them,” said Ostroff on branding The CW. “Time was ticking and we had to come up with something. So it was Warner Bros. and CBS, and it wound up being CW for CBS and Warner Bros., which theoretically you understand how everybody got there. Makes a lot of sense but when you’re starting a brand form scratch, and you’re reaching 18-34 millennials, and it’s supposed to be hip and cool and you’re calling it CW, everybody automatically thought it was Country Western.”
— “We think about net neutrality all the time. No, I’m only kidding,” said Schleiff. “From a programming point of view, we’re agnostic. Our first responsibility is to the viewer. To that end, we just don’t want to see any roadblocks to our content.”
— Monroe talked about how a focus group viewed National Geographic viewers. “They describe this elderly professor in a tweed jacket with elbow patches, drinking a scotch, boring, dusty and old. So it was this aha moment, which shouldn’t’ have been so aha, but just how active we need to be to push against that brand perception. And not be, as we’re now, saying Professor Plum. We can’t be perceived as that. We need to be perceived as more Indiana Jones. And it takes a long time for brand perceptions to evolve and change.”