TNT: Branding Drama

TNT, which is owned by Turner Broadcasting Systems, is one of the most well known television networks in the United States of America. With shows like ER, Law and Order and The Last Ship it has captivated audiences for years and shows no signs of slowing down. It provides an older and more mature audience with dramatic entertainment, including dramatic television shows during the day for the most part, and drama movies at night, save for the newest episode of one of its many shows. It has also hosted a great many daily and championship sporting events. The company’s website is and includes a number of shows and movies, as well as the ability to watch live television. TNT established itself as a drama network by building the drama brand to be synonymous with the network name and viewing experience.

If you haven’t noticed, the word drama has already been mentioned quite a bit. That word is going to be the focus of this blog. Well, in a sense. I’m talking about drama as a branding strategy for TNT as a cable network. If you have ever watched TNT you might have seen or heard the campaign, “TNT: We Know Drama.” It was developed and promoted back in 2000 according to an article put out by Turner Network Television. Through a study the network discovered that a “strong core audience coming to the network in increasing numbers: the Drama Lovers – viewers who want television that makes them think and feel, and who prefer movies, dramatic series and sports to other programming choices.” Steve Koonin, executive vice president and general manager of TNT, said, “The Drama Lovers group are mainly comprised of college-educated adults ages 25-54, who are married with families, live in large cities and suburbs with upper middle-class income.” He goes on to explain that the goal of the network is to engage its audience in powerful and dramatic stories with “excitement, action, suspense, romance and humor.”

If you haven’t seen the trailer for the TNT action drama, The Last Ship, watch the above clip. This trailer, and the show itself, fulfills what Koonin promises as engaging material. There is plenty of action and suspense to be seen in this fairly new program. This show, like many others airing on the network works to provide audiences with a show whose world is fantastic and drama filled. An “end of the world” plotline is fairly popular in pop culture and modern television and cinema these days, and TNT works to capitalize on and engage its audience this experience.

Now, back to the aforementioned campaign, “TNT: We Know Drama.” In a book titled, Nickelodeon and Consumer Citizenship, Sarah Banet-Weiser this about network branding; “development of brand culture, where the brand matters more than the product, and corporations sell an experience or a lifestyle more than a thing.”

TNT wants its audience to experience drama. In 2001, along with the new slogan, TNT got really dramatic. In an articled titled, The Leaders Voice, Boyde Clark and Ron Crossland recounted the network’s turn to drama television. They talked about TNT repositioned itself to provide a clear viewing experience that audiences would find on the network. Clark and Crossland said, “On June 12, 2001 TNT launched D-Day (Drama Day) featuring big actors like Whoopi Goldberg, Dennis Hopper, Joan Allen and other stars celebrating and contemplating ‘What is Drama?’” What I believe is most important to notice here is that TNT wanted to establish itself with a genre that could go hand in hand with its name. The two men wrote, “TNT achieved a successful repositioning and anew brand image as strong as MTV and other networks whose content you could sum in one work: i.e music=MTV. Drama=TNT.” The network very quickly established what Banet-Weiser said about the brand being more important than the product.

Establishing itself as a drama network was obviously important to TNT. A reason for this according to Bradley J. Siegel, president of general entertainment networks for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., as cited in the Turner Article, was “this branding initiative will further differentiate TNT from sister network TBS Superstation. Both networks will continue their momentum of the past year, delivering core targets of desired adults while maintaining distinct brands and appealing to different mindsets.” This branding technique for TNT displays Turner Broadcasting’s desire to reach a larger number of audiences. If you were to turn on the two stations you would see that TBS is more committed to comedy, with award winning shows like Big Band Theory. While TNT has maintained it’s commitment to drama with new series like The Last Ship taking off in 2014, about to enter its fourth season.

“TNT: We Know Drama,” is something that most TNT audience members have heard if they watch the network frequently. The brand took off in 2001 and has grown in the last 15 years. TNT has built this experience with long running shows with massive fan followings. TNT does know its drama.

Boyd Clark, Ron Crossland. The Leader’s Voice. Retrieved November 30, 2016 from’s%20Voice.pdf

Sarah Banet-Weiser (2007). Kids Rule! Nickelodeon!: Nickelodeon and Consumer Citizenship. Retrieved November 30, 2016 from

Turner Network Television (2001)TNT Unveils New Branding Strategy Targeting Drama Lovers As Network Demo Delivery Continues Double-Digit Growth. Retrieved November 30, 2016 from


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