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The Impact of Brand Fluency on TV Networks & Streaming Services

With Hollywood’s award show season in full swing, networks releasing fresh content in 2018, and viewers now up-to-speed with their holiday gifts of streaming devices and smart TVs, the pursuit to find and prioritize what to watch this year grows.

This search and discovery is further complicated in the US as an estimated 22 million adults cancelled their cable or satellite TV in 2017.  (Variety, 9/13).  As a result, more networks have committed to providing direct-to-consumer streaming services in 2018.  These efforts are more or less a ”take two” from the TV Everywhere (TVE) initiatives that began as far back as 2009, but were widely bungled due to a complex authentication process and general lack of awareness.

In the meantime, streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu have created user experiences that are full of variety, familiarity, fun… and frustrating.  The user experience in seeking content can send viewers down wormholes that are tough to climb out of.  In fact, a study in 2016 noted that Netflix users spend 17.8 minutes, on average, browsing possible TV and movie options before making a selection. Netflix users browse nearly twice as long as cable subscribers, who typically take 9.1 minutes to figure out what to watch.

As networks strive to catch up via their own streaming services and more-simplified approaches to accessing content directly, they can take a page from brands in other categories that have leveraged strong brand fluency to help create moving power. Knowing that 95% of our decisions are made with our system1 brain, (which helps us select options based on fast, intuitive, emotional and effortless cues), media networks need to deliver brand fluency for viewers based on their distinctive assets.  These may be logos, colors, celebrities, taglines, shows or even a well-established network brand story.

Many networks who previously licensed the rights to their series by allowing streaming services to show them, risked losing the network brand equity associated with those series.  Giving viewers a reason and simple way to find content on their platforms is critical to remaining relevant… and profitable.

Keeping viewers tuned in, or even binging, is also crucial for networks to remain enticing in the eyes of advertisers.  Networks like HGTV & Food Network leverage the convention of starting programs at the top of the hour, right after the conclusion of the previous episode’s ’story’ in order to hook the viewer and keep them watching.  Similarly, Netflix starts a short countdown clock to the next episode of a series upon completing an episode in order to keep the continuing viewing experience fluid.

In our Fame, Feeling and Fluency study of media networks, those brands with the most distinct identity and assets, recorded the highest on Fluency percentile; Discovery, Food Network, AMC, FX & HGTV.  Brands that deliver clear passion areas for consumers or have established themselves as leaders in edgy programming for instance, separate themselves from the sea of options.  The networks that win will be considered a choice, not merely an option.


John Bishop

System1 Research




The Australian Market and Social Research Society is linked globally to 45 associations through its partnership with the Global Research Business Network (GRBN) and the Asia Pacific Research Committee (APRC). Click here to read about the AMSRS global network. This article is originally sourced from GRBN website.

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