NEW YORK: TV networks retain a strong brand equity among consumers generally, but not among the youngest age group, according to a new study which also notes that other media categories are catching up with TV.

The Harris Poll 2016 EquiTrend Brand Equity Index ranked brands on the basis of the assessment of 97,000 US consumers of three factors: familiarity, quality and purchase consideration.

TV networks returned an EquiTrend score of 68.4, ahead of video streaming subscriptions, the next best-placed media category on 61.1. Cable networks with targeted content were also making inroads.

But the biggest risk to TV network brand equity comes not so much from other media categories as changing demographics, as the views of millennials and Generation Z diverge sharply when it comes to television.

"While much focus has been on millennials' media consumption, Gen Z stands to be the real disruptor," said Joan Sinopoli, VP/brand solutions at Nielsen. "Among millennials and Generation Z, video-streaming subscriptions have their strongest equity position, but TV networks' equity drops dramatically among Gen Z consumers.

"Our research also shows that a gradual decline from the older generations to the younger in brand connection with TV networks becomes a significant decline with Gen Z," she added.

"With an abundance of new media choices, such as Crunchy Roll and, the mobile-first generation will accelerate media fragmentation at a speed we can barely grasp today."

For now, however, TV networks actually experienced a slight lift in 2016, a development Sinopoli attributed to the fact that consumers tend to view factual entertainment TV, which has a lot of educational content, as having a stronger positive social impact.

"This likely helps to push it toward the front in equity," she said.

Data sourced from The Harris Poll; additional content by Warc staff