Monday, June 15, 2009

My Cable Networks Are Losing Their Niches

I can appreciate change and I certainly understand that cable networks must continue to evolve in order to grow ratings, viewership, ad dollars, and of course total revenue. At the same time, each should stay true to their core mission or else they all simply start looking like each other. I make this statement because I recently saw an ad announcing that Cartoon Network will have non-animation, reality programming. Yikes! Does that mean that they will change their name to Cartoon and Live Action Network? Certainly it is not a first as they have shown non-animation films on their channel. It may be by, about, and for kids, bit it is not their core mission - cartoons. And why is it being done, broader demographic reach, bigger ratings, more advertising.

But I don't want to put the blame down on Cartoon; truth is, other cable networks have done the same thing, gone outside their core programming genre:

TV Land - theatrical movies
AMC - Modern movies and original TV series
A&E - syndicated TV series
CNBC - repeats of Deal or No Deal and other shows
TLC - reality (non learning) TV shows

The list goes on and on. Each cable network has broadened its niche so that the network today looks nothing like the network of 5 -10 years ago. For example, Bravo went from classical arts to pop art.

Is this a good or bad thing. That is not for me to decide. Clearly, ratings of each of these networks have improved as well over this same period. Broad programming will have more appeal over niche. It is just that cable programmings appeal was that it could provide the niche programming that broadcast lacked. Now, cable has become the new broadcast network source. And where do the niches go now for content; for the moment, that would be the web.

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