Saturday, March 24, 2007

Rebranding TV Channels - March 24, 2007



A simple Slice of Life

Consultantskeep convincing TV channels to change their names. Maybe those channels should just spend their money on making good shows instead.

By Eric Kohanik

I’m always amused by TV channels that reinvent themselves.

They’re not alone in this, of course. Newspapers and magazines all go through makeovers occasionally. And Internet sites have also begun a pattern of periodically updating themselves.

The objective for all of them, of course, is to attract an audience they wouldn’t get otherwise. At least that’s what high-priced media consultants keep telling them.

Radio stations are a prime example of this exercise. They change IDs more frequently than some people change their underwear.

The trend is hitting a growing number of TV channels now, too. Earlier this month, Life Network – a Canadian cable outlet dedicated to lifestyle shows – wiped out its entire history and rebranded itself as Slice.

Kitschy names are popular on the American cable scene, with such handles as Flix, Fuel, Fuse, Spike, Starz and E! dotting the TV landscape.

Such monikers are de rigueur in Canada, too, with names like Space, Scream, One and Star! littering the lineup.

There have been many amusing rebranding efforts over the years. After dallying with multiple identities, including one called ONtv, Hamilton’s CHCH-TV finally just became CH. The brand would eventually overtake other CanWest Global stations in Victoria, Montreal, Kelowna and Red Deer.

The CH exercise inspired CHUM Television to take Toronto’s Citytv brand westward to its stations in Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Victoria. When CHUM realized its previously renamed “New” stations – The New VI (Victoria), The New RO (Ottawa-Pembroke),The New VR (Toronto-Barrie), The New WI (Windsor, Ont.), The New PL (London, Ont.) and The New NX (Wingham, Ont.) – weren’treally that “new” anymore, it rechristenedeach as A-Channel.

Ironically, A-Channel was the name CHUM dumped in Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton. One market’s trash, it seems, is another market’s treasure.

More recently, CTVglobemedia (formerly Bell Globemedia) renamed CTV Travel asTravel + Escape, likely because the specialty cable channel had escaped viewer attention. Last year, meanwhile, CBS and Warner Bros. merged two American networks – The WB and UPN – into The CW (as in CBS Warner).

Judging from its performance this season, maybe they should have called it The WC.

Back here at home, CanWest Global turned a cable channel called Prime into TVtropolis. That’s quite a mouthful, so insiders are now starting to refer to it as The Trop – which sounds more like a case of something you might pick up at a house of ill repute.

Then again, TV is full of ill repute. What those media consultants always forget is that viewers really just want good shows, not silly new channel names.

And that’s just a simple fact of Life – no matter how you Slice it.

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