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Cable networks among top brands

Mar 25, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Lifetime Television ranks first among women, and ESPN is No. 1 among men in an ongoing independent study that seeks to quantify brand equity among people 18 and older by measuring consumer loyalty to and identification with particular brands.
The study, conducted by Westfield, N.J-.based Knowledge Networks/Statistical Research Inc., measures the “brand resonance” of 138 national brands, including not only broadcast and cable networks but also such familiar names as Coca-Cola, Betty Crocker and McDonald’s.
While Lifetime and ESPN each topped the gender categories, when it comes to all adults 18 and over, Lifetime ranked third on KN/SRI’s brand-resonance scale, ESPN was No. 32, ABC was fourth, PBS was sixth, NBC was ninth, Fox was No. 30, and CBS was No. 48.
Lynn Picard, Lifetime’s executive VP for ad sales, joined the network for women from the network for men, coming to Lifetime from ESPN, where she had been VP of business development. “When I came to Lifetime, I felt like Lifetime had the opportunity to be to women what ESPN was to men,” she said. Specifically, that meant enlisting women in the network’s community the way ESPN positions itself as the network for the community of sports fans.
Lifetime has increased its viewers’ sense of community and engagement by launching initiatives to increase breast cancer awareness, to stop violence against women and to increase women’s sense of empowerment, and most recently by supporting legislation that would ensure more trained personnel to collect and analyze evidence of sexual assault through a petition drive on its Lifetimetv.com Web site.
Both Lifetime and ESPN ranked relatively low in the KN/SRI study with adults of the opposite gender, with Lifetime coming in at No. 103 with men and ESPN ranking No. 95 with women. For Lifetime, even though its audience is approximately 25 percent male, that low ranking with men is not of particular concern because the network does not sell male demos to advertisers. ESPN, on the other hand, does sell female demos and plans to target women with a “very aggressive [women’s] sports initiative,” said Ed Erhardt, president, customer marketing and sales, ESPN ABC Sports.
That ESPN women’s sports initiative will be tied to the upcoming 30th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark federal legislation that banned sex discrimination in schools, whether in academics or athletics.
The value to advertisers of networks with strong brand resonance is that their own brand could leverage those values for itself, particularly the sense of community and engagement that the two networks instill in their viewers, said Ericka Witnauer, VP and managing director of KN/SRI. “We have other networks in [the study] that don’t do as well,” she said. “It suggests that there is some sort of disconnect between the brand name and viewers’ loyalty, viewers’ attachment, the feeling that they identify with others and want to talk about it.”
Brand resonance is a way to view the emotional and cognitive relationship a consumer has with a particular brand. The components of brand resonance are loyalty, attachment, community and engagement. The KN/SRI study is based on the Customer-Based Brand Equity model formulated by Kevin Lane Keller, a professor of marketing at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business.