Changing Your Channels—5 Ways Network Re-branding Affects Your TV Listings

rebranding networks in television tv listings
As viewers rely more and more on the EPG to inform their viewing—even rebranding a content provider can take on huge implications in their guide.

The most notable example might be the switch from TNN (The Nashville Network, then The National Network) to Spike TV. From country to sorta guy-oriented to full-on testosterone.

When stations or networks rebrand themselves, it creates a myriad of considerations that can affect TV listings even beyond changes in content.

Here’s how rebranding a network or station gets treated when channels—for whatever reason and to whatever extent—change their branding.

1. Re-branding starts with scuttlebutt, the scoop, rumor, innuendo—then an announcement.
The first inkling that a rebranding effort will take place isn’t necessarily an official announcement. Like so many things in entertainment, the “news” has usually been rumored for so long that the actual announcement is oftentimes very anti-climactic.

However, at the first sign of a rebranding, a plan should already be in place to determine just how implementing the new branding will take place. This ensures when the big official announcement actually happens, all the particulars have already been decided and prepared.

After the announcement, a notification to all clients on the part of the listings data service should be issued so that no surprises occur when the rebranding actually takes effect. Also, pre-notification alerts all parties to the change at an early stage so all parties are informed that a change will even be taking place.

It’s important to note that the re-branding changes don’t just reside with a data provider. These same changes have to “trickle down” from the network or channel to the data provider to every every content provider—and across all the websites, APIs, and other associated communications. Early notification helps FYI to alert all parties involved so no one misses out on the re-branding.

NOTE: The bigger the relaunch, the sooner and louder the announcement, generally.

2. There’s rebranding a station or network, and then there’s REALLY rebranding.
Rebranding where content remains the same is different than rebranding where content changes.

Just exactly how rebranded is a station or network really going to be?

Is it a slight cosmetic name change with the exact same content? Or is it a total shift to a completely new and different type of programming? Like going from women’s programming to an all-tractor pull network?

Rebranding where content largely remains the same is different that rebranding which might occur with the sale of a channel or network that could entail a complete gearshift in actual programming content. And that’s a rebranding of an entirely different color than, say, just going from Spike TV to Spike.

3. Your ID is your ID and that’s how how you’ll be identified.
Of paramount importance is not to interrupt a station ID unless absolutely necessary. Because underlying station IDs only change with 100%, brand new, totally from the ground up NEW channels.

That way, programs and airings can be tracked back into the archives of the previous branding without confusion or an interrupted supply of data—completely unconnected to the new entity. This way, the legacy content from the former branding can easily be traced.

Because, when tracking programming, believe it or not, knowing WHERE something aired is just as important as when.

4. The ID remains the same—even when everything’s changing around it.
How do you indicate that a station’s branding has changed if the station ID remains the same, you might be asking yourself?

That’s easy. Just because an ID remains the same, the station DESCRIPTION can change dramatically. So, when TNN switched to Spike TV, not only the call sign changed but also the description of what that station offers.
network rebranding and tv listings
Just to refresh your memory, when The Nashville Network morphed into Spike TV which later morphed into just Spike--there remained enough male-influenced content like auto racing that the station ID did not change. However, the station description changed from a country-flavored male offering, to total guy programming, then shifting to a male-themed emphasis on drama. 

Hence, a call sign and even the description of a station’s offering can totally change and still remain with the same, constant station ID.

5. Sure, the branding is totally new, but will the content be totally new?
So, if the station ID can remain the same when descriptions and even call signs change, when DOES a station receive a brand new, unique station ID?

Very seldom, if possible. But the answer to the question is that a station receives a new station ID when a station’s branding and content are both entirely and totally new. Even in the case of the legendary TNN to Spike TV switch, there was wrestling content that carried over.

Rarely will a station totally abandon every single facet of successful programming—and sometimes a rebranding efforts have a “soft launch” that allows popular programming to remain for a period of time, then slowly be phased out as the rebranded content slowly fills up the programming schedule.

Rebranding or re-vamping a channel or a network isn’t a casual move. So, make sure that move pays off fully right where viewers are making their decisions. Their listings viewing guide. Filled with plenty of cues to let viewers know about the rebranding—and what it means for them.


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