Broadcast networks NBC and ABC have reportedly improved their public images lately, and the reason may be simple. Writing in The New York Times, veteran TV observer Bill Carter writes that it's all about their new late-night lineups, and in particular how the Jimmys — NBC's Fallon and ABC's Kimmel — are using video clips to enhance the brand.
"While the evidence is indirect, an extensive brand survey conducted by the market research agency YouGov found that it is 'absolutely the case' that the increasing exposure of the two comics' videos has the potential to help the perceptions of their networks, according to Ted Marzilli, the chief executive of YouGov’s BrandIndex survey," Carter writes.
Carter cites the online popularity of clips such as Michelle Obama’s “Evolution of Mom Dancing,” from Fallon's "Tonight Show" (see clip below) and Kimmel's series of posts including celebrities reading mean Twitter messages about themselves.
"What is directly quantifiable in the survey is a highly unusual jump in positive ratings for the brands of NBC and ABC over the past six months. Among over 1,200 brands the company measured between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year, NBC finished fourth and ABC fifth in terms of improving the consumer perception of their brands," Carter reports.
Said YouGov's Marzilli: “That is absolutely meaningful. We don’t see networks making leaps like that.”
Carter adds: "Notably, the other brands at the top of the perception-improvement list tended to be companies coming back from unmitigated disaster, like Carnival Cruise Lines. NBC and ABC are television networks — two among the 50 YouGov regularly surveys — that didn’t have a nationally covered news event that caused consumers to relegate them to brand infamy.
"Or, at least not recently. NBC did take a calamitous dive in the YouGov index back in January 2010, when it hit a spectacularly bad perception score of minus 32. That number is even worse than the minus 23.6 score that Carnival descended to last year after a series of stories about its ships losing power — and working bathroom facilities."
The article notes that the score is derived from asking consumers whether they've heard anything good or bad about a company in the past two weeks.
"Back during that period in 2010, NBC was, as Mr. Marzilli noted, in the midst of the national firestorm over its ouster of Conan O’Brien from 'The Tonight Show' and the restoration of Jay Leno to host," Carter writes.
Said Marzilli: “NBC hit a nadir at that time that was its lowest point in the last five years."
Carter adds: "While he was hesitant to associate a network’s brand perception directly with the fortunes of its late-night star, Mr. Marzilli did suggest that 'late-night stars are one way that consumers identify with a network.' He added: 'There’s only a handful of these guys out there, so it’s easy for a consumer to keep track of who’s on what network. In prime time there are so many shows, they can kind of get lost in the shuffle.'”
Marzilli added: “You look at what Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel have done on YouTube, or some of the other stuff they have posted, and that may be a way they are not just building their own brands, but also they may be providing a halo effect on their networks.”
Here's that Michelle Obama-Jimmy Fallon clip from NBC's "Tonight Show":