Ratings Not Key to Satisfaction

Dec 13, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Some basic cable channels are highly valued among subscribers even if they’re not highly rated, according to an annual survey by Beta Research released last week.

Modestly rated networks like the History Channel, The Weather Channel and Food Network were ranked among the top five favorite channels in a survey of 1,000 basic cable viewers across the country ages 18 and up during August and September.

Likewise, some ratings leaders-such as MTV, FX, Nick at Nite and others-were absent from the list.

“We have found that networks that don’t necessarily have the highest Nielsen ratings can still leave the audience significantly more satisfied,” said Andy Klein, president of the cable TV division at Beta Research. “Networks that have clearly defined programming, where the audience clearly knows what it’s getting, networks that are information-type channels and networks that are after a specific target audience-such as Lifetime-all tend to score high. Networks that have a broad range of programming, but are less definable, tend to score lower than in Nielsen ratings.”

The study measured perceptions of 37 major networks and 11 midsize networks. The study ranked networks in several categories: favorite basic cable networks, average perceived value and quality of programming.

Across all categories, the Discovery Channel, ESPN and the History Channel filled the top ranks among major networks, with CNN, The Weather Channel, Fox News Channel, HGTV, Food Network and USA typically filling in the list.

Discovery Channel has been a top-ranked channel on program quality every year since Beta started its annual study in 1988.

Among midsize networks, National Geographic Channel, Hallmark, WGN Superstation, Oxygen and ESPN Classic were among those found to be highly regarded.

“When people come to the channel, people find they’re not only informed but entertained,” said Dan Davids, executive VP and general manager of the History Channel. “We’re able to give many people a relational understanding and emotional connection to the past, and I think people value that.”