Cable networks sweep Emmy nominations and brand loyalty

July 22, 2013

I became hooked on FX with the premiere of “Sons of Anarchy” in 2008. Sons of Anarchy, or SAMCRO to viewers of the show, is about an infamous outlaw motorcycle club hell-bent on protecting their sheltered little town, literally named Charming, from commercial developers and drug dealers. What girl doesn’t love a bad boy?

After Sons of Anarchy, I proceeded to get hooked on FX’s other dramas: “Justified” in 2010, “American Horror Story” in 2011, “The Americans” in January and “The Bridge” two weeks ago. I am trying to get my coworkers turned onto the show so I can discuss each new episode with them on Thursday mornings. I even converted my father, who is not much of a TV watcher, into a “Justified” fan. When it’s in season, we have weekly catch-up sessions, even though we’re 800 miles apart. I have become a diehard FX fan, knowing I will love the next series it puts out even if it hasn’t been developed yet.

Just last week, Emmy nominations were announced and between the 12 shows nominated for best Drama Series and Comedy Series only three were from the major broadcast networks. Three. Premium network, HBO lead the charge with three nods, Netflix made its first appearance and I’m happy to announce “my” FX made the list. While cable and premium networks may have more flexibility to push the boundaries in terms of programming, they are ultimately topping this list because they have a clear and defined focus on what their brands stand for and promise to deliver.

With any good brand, consumers seek that security of consistency in knowing what they will get each time they interact with it. That’s why some tourists go to a foreign land and instead of enjoying the delicious local cuisine, they instead divert to the nearest McDonalds. You don’t know how many times I have begun watching a new TV series on one of the major broadcast networks, investing precious time and often emotions, to only be disappointed when it is cancelled after only a few weeks or one short season. That is because these major broadcast networks want to be everything to everybody. Coffee chat friend in the morning, therapist during the afternoon, an entertainer during primetime and if one is up in the wee hours of the night, a travelling salesman. Their focus is all over the place. I don’t know what I’m going to get. A good brand needs a single promise they can deliver on.

If these Emmy nominations are any indication, it pays off to have a brand promise you can deliver on. HBO delivers more than you imagined, Bravo delivers reality-based absurdity and FX delivers fearless entertainment. These networks are building brand loyalists, people like myself who are more than willing to tune into to a certain network and not feel the need to change the channel all night.

Does consistency make you loyal to a brand?

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