Category:Networks

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Once upon a time, there were companies that transmitted radio and television signals to the extent of their signal strength. These companies bought entertainment content from a single source. The content sources bought the content they resold from a wide variety of entities called "studios".

The companies with the transmitters thought it would be a good idea to have a brand to identify with. The companies that sold content thought it would be a good idea for that brand to be related to them.

The studios thought, "What the hell. You want to buy content? Call it whatever you want, just send money."

The notion of "network" was born.

In today's world -- where distribution of content is by cable, satellite, DVD, or internet -- the folks with the transmitters are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Viewers care less about the "network" brand. The shows are becoming more relevant than the networks that broadcast them, meaning that the show is the brand. Which means that the "studio" is now what it is all about, for the viewer. Not so much for the networks.

Other than the "big three four", the purpose of "network" now mostly serves to identify a niche outlet on cable/satellite; for example, the Food Network and Animal Planet tend to have a lot of cooking shows and wildlife shows, respectively. Going back to "the show is the brand" concept, many if not most "home-brew" "networks" and "channels" on the Web (say, on YouTube) are really best described as shows.

Related tropes:

Not to be confused with Network, a film about TV networks.