question of the day: Why have cable networks divorced their programming from all semblance of connection to their branding?

Backlot Syfy cartoon

Remember when MTV showed music videos and the Sci-Fi Channel — or, urgh, SyFy — didn’t show wrestling? Those seem like the good old days of bitching about how much TV sucks. Today it’s all shark attacks on Discovery, ice road truckers on the History Channel, and Honey Boo Boo on what used to be known as The Learning Channel but couldn’t possibly reach the vast depth of shamelessness to dare call itself that now.

What the hell happened?

Steven Lloyd Wilson at Pajiba is furious about this. From “Television Killed Itself: The Rise of Pointless Television”:

There is no longer any brand meaning in most of television. History, TLC, A&E, Discovery … the dreck that fills these stations isn’t just terrible television, it is terrible business because it has no connection to its network. Hell, even the Weather Channel has a reality show about a fireworks company. Think brand doesn’t matter? Explain then with a straight face why you don’t care whether it’s HBO or Lifetime that adapts your favorite novel.

Why now? That’s the real question. It’s easy to explain away that reality shows are cheap and easy and cable television’s endless wasteland of hours needing filled just beg for that sort of entertainment. That might be the easy answer but it’s also a steaming pile. Those conditions have existed for well over twenty years without seeing the detonation of shit that has occured over the last five years.

I wouldn’t dream of spoiling Wilson’s conclusions about it all — click over to Pajiba to read the whole thing, which is terrific, by the way.

Why have cable networks divorced their programming from all semblance of connection to their branding?

Unfortunately — or, perhaps, fortunately — I don’t have access to cable and haven’t since I’ve been living in London, so I don’t know if the situation is as bad in the U.K. as it is in the U.S. I’d be curious to hear, too, from readers elsewhere if their cable universe has deteriorated as much.

Image above from The

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