New research from Viacom’s Global Consumer Insights unit shows that a heavy majority of viewers ages 12-34 prefer watching programming with onscreen channel logos, as opposed to programming on plain, logo-free screens.
The findings counter the widespread assumption that streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are eroding traditional TV brands, with millennials and Gen Y viewers eager to disregard the channel identity as they seek out what to watch. Many stakeholders in TV also have predicted a future in which the brands of individual shows are superior to the 20th century concept of a network brand filter.
With the help from a research agency, Viacom conducted a blind test of nearly 3,000 12-34s in the U.S. and UK, presenting them with video the company told them was part of a new and yet-unnamed on-demand platform. The company said the setup “had the look, feel and functionality of a regular service featuring premium content from across the media landscape.” Half of the survey respondents seeing logos and half the logo-free images, and then both groups were shown both versions side by side. In the end, 84% of respondents preferred the programming with logos.
The notion of channels serving as curators of programming is embedded in Viacom’s current overall strategy as it continues to pursue a turnaround. Since taking the helm of the company two years ago, CEO Bob Bakish has led a re-orientation of the company’s efforts around six flagship networks — BET, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and the Paramount Network — with the theory that it makes more sense to focus resources on a select number of proven brands.
Exploring the viewers’ reasons for preferring logos, Viacom’s study found that viewers in favor of logos thought the interface was better designed, more innovative, had better discovery and had “more current, desirable content.”
The difference was especially notable among 12-to-17-year-olds, the company said. As a group, 74% of 12-17s watching the version with the logos said the on-demand service was “easier to use” than other comparable services. Among 12-17s watching the version without logos, 66% said it was easier to use.