Distribution is obviously very different in the TV arena, as a network or cable channel is the distribution channel itself rather than a conduit to decentralized points where consumers view a product (i.e., movie theatres). Accordingly, the question “what is a network” has a more tangible answer than what is a “studio” (and further falls more into the regulatory and legal area).
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Chapter 6 discusses this line in more detail, and for the purposes here I will limit the analysis to the parallel issues such as range and differentiation of product and how segmentation plays out and even defines channels in the TV world. Defining Networks by Product, Reach, and Range of Budgets Aside from the technical or legal definitions, networks like studio entities are defined by diversity, quantity, and reach.
Marketing, scheduling, and affiliating a common trademark across the breadth of disparate content then help create a wraparound brand, leveraging goodwill to enable cross-promotion and awareness.
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By diversity, I mean that programming, while specialized at times, caters to the overall audience and covers a broad spectrum: news, kids, sports, talk shows, dramas, sitcoms, etc.
A channel could fulfill Market Opportunity and Segmentation 37 legal and FCC bells and whistles for carriage, time devoted to education, and other criteria, but the consumer base would not equate it with a so-called broadcast network without the rhythm of a morning show followed by soaps followed by daytime and kids followed by news followed by primetime followed by late night that defines the viewing public’s day.
In essence, networks are defined by their diversity rather than specialization, with specialization limited to style, feel, and demographic targeting.