The Limits of Reflected Glory: The Beneficial and Harmful Effects of Product Name Similarity in the US Network TV Program Industry, 1944-2003 Articles uri icon

publication date

  • March 2016

start page

  • 411

end page

  • 427


  • 2


  • 27

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1047-7039

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1526-5455


  • The market fate of a product ultimately determines the success or failure of a firm. A name is a central feature of any product, yet how names affect product market longevity is not well understood. In this paper we develop a theory in which a new product's name affects the product's categorization by audiences and, as a result, impacts its survival chances on the market. We predict that the similarity of the new product's name to names of other products in the industry affects its survival probability, but the direction and magnitude of this effect depends on the popularity and status of products, to names of which the new product's name is similar. We test our predictions on the population of all TV programs that were introduced during prime time plus early evening and late night on networks in the United States from the beginning of the industry in 1944 through 2003.


  • categorization; organizational ecology; product demography; product name; naming; product survival; product exit; product turnover; television industry; sociocognitive dynamics; illegitimacy discount; decision-making; brand names; market; model; information; identities; duplication; preferences