September 9, 2020

Paranormal Obsession: Should Travel Channel Rebrand?


ghost in a ruined castle
We have several cable channels devoted almost entirely to promoting various paranormal phenomena as if they were real. It puzzles me how this stuff can be as popular as it is, but I have little doubt that it is extremely popular and that this is why we are seeing so much of it. Sure, some of it is cool, but how does one get to the point of taking it as seriously as many people seem to do? Perhaps it is because they watch lots of these shows.

I've tended to focus on the History Channel when I criticize this stuff because I fondly remember when they used to offer shows on history, and because they've been at this paranormal trend longer than most of the other channels. I've also noted that there is something that seems more deliberate in their approach. Still, I'm not sure I could say with any confidence that they are the worst offender. There seem to be plenty of good candidates, and I haven't watched anywhere near enough of them to know how they compare.

I have recently noticed that the Travel Channel seems to have abandoned even the pretense of showing anything relevant to travel and has gone full paranormal. I made a point of scrolling through the cable's on-screen guide for several consecutive days, and it was all paranormal all the time. There was nothing travel-related.

Here's my question: if this stuff is a popular as it seems to be, why are these channels keeping their original names at all? Why don't they all rebrand themselves as paranormal-focused channels? Wouldn't that attract more viewers? Most people aren't going to say to themselves, "I really feel like watching grown men pee their pants while hunting "ghosts" with bad thermal imaging cameras. I wonder what's on the Travel Channel?" And most people looking for stuff on travel are unlikely to have much patience for all the paranormal garbage. Why not have a monster channel, a ghost channel, an "ancient" aliens channel?

I watched a few minutes of one of these shows on the Travel Channel recently because I thought there might have been a travel component to it. My guess, based on the title, was that they might be focusing on things like haunted tours that blended paranormal with travel. There was no travel-related content at all. Just before I turned it off, they aired a commercial or the Travel Channel that made it sound like it was focused on travel like it used to be. It is almost as if the people tasked with promoting the channel are oblivious to the content shown on the channel. Or maybe it was a promotion from several years ago that nobody has bothered to update.

And then it hit me. Who's the undisputed king of having a name that has nothing whatsoever to do with the content? No, not Freethought Blogs! I'm thinking of MTV. It has been at least a decade since their programming had much of anything to do with music videos, but they have not rebranded as the horrible reality show network. Why? My guess is that their name has too much value for people (like me) who are old enough to remember what they used to be. I don't think any of the other channels could claim that (except maybe for the History Channel), but I wonder if that is part of why they are sticking with names that have nothing to do with their programming.