Where to begin? It used to be that you had a genre or niche and aired shows related to that. But nowadays? Teletoon is airing crappy live-action movies, Much is airing crappy Comedy Central shows (not that I think TripTank was a worst show than Brickleberry) and OLN might as well be "the crappy Storage Wars-knockoff network". Nowadays, niche networks rely on mainstream programming to get their fix, since shows that they are supposed to air don't pay the bills.
Then there's the fact that mass media companies have spread themselves too thin. Even smaller companies like Rogers and Blue Ant are guilty of this. Seriously, Rogers is so small they barely had any content for FXX at launch that wasn't already on FX Canada; not that the American version was a better example! Not until the end of Sons of Anarchy were they able to fully distinguish the schedule and, even then, both of them are still burning off City sitcoms and airing reruns of Murdoch Mysteries to fulfill cancon quotas. See, that's what happens when you spend too much money importing American crap instead of making your own!
When it comes to recycling shows, there's no better example then Shaw Media's networks. I just noticed that Slice is now airing Law and Order: SVU, despite it already airing on Crime + Investigation. Don't get me started on the company's fetish for NCIS reruns either. Lifetime, CI, Showcase, I wouldn't be surprised if IFC starting airing an episode of two. Have you seen DTOUR? It was nothing but 3rd Rock from the Sun and Friends reruns at launch (the latter of which, by-the-by, also airs on Slice); now it's all day reruns of Border Security, which already airs on BBC Canada and Nat Geo. How about you pick a damn channel and stick with it!?
You know what, while I'm at it, Esquire Network did the same thing FXX and DTour did after its rebrand. It's supposed to be a lifestyle network aimed at upscale men, but went from 80' action shows (not that it was a bad thing...) to NCIS and Top Chef reruns! Here's an idea; if you don't have enough genre-related content to support a new network, don't flipping launch it!
In order to save money, rather than close down lame ducks like BookTelevision, MTV2, and G4, companies would rather cut jobs and let their networks run on auto-pilot. No one even watches these channels but cable packages will keep them afloat, and the more networks a company has, the more money it makes. Laziness, that's what it is, pure laziness. They could have done something, but they didn't.
Brand overlap is another pet peeve I have, but it's mostly an American problem, since genre exclusivity largely prevents this from happening in Canada. Seriously, you have BET Hip-Hop and MTV Jams; both of which show hip-hop videos. MTV2 wants to be a comedy network, but forgot that Viacom already owns Comedy Central. Not only that, their constant need to air anything but "you-know-what" has lead them to air sitcoms that already air on BET and Centric. All I ask if you have a genre or niche, keep it to one network instead. MTV2, you know I love you, but this shit's gotta stop!
Left and right cable networks are shooting themselves in the foot because, to coin a phrase from a certain game journalist (and "Thank God for Him"), companies would rather have all the money then no money at all. Never mind the fact that their stupid decisions will earn them, indeed, no money at all. All the money will go to the Netflix's and Hulu's of the world, since they're always there to capitalize on cable's mistakes.
Here's how to survive in a pick-and-pay world. Have one genre per channel, don't rerun the same show on five different networks, and have a distinctive lineup of shows from your competitors and your siblings. It's not guaranteed and I'm no expert but, I don't watch ratings or charts, I watch television. I think I know what the hell I'm talking about.