The most valuable networks to cable operators are ESPN, Disney and Fox News
Channel, according to the latest annual survey from Beta Research Corp, based
in Syosset, N.Y.
The company asks cable operators about the value of basic cable networks to
their system and asked them to estimate the amount per month, per subscriber
that the network was worth to their system. ESPN came top at $0.93, followed by
its ESPN2 at $0.53 while Disney came third at $0.42.
The survey is welcome news to Walt Disney Co. which owns those networks and is
attempting to gain additional carriage payments from pay-TV operators for its
ABC Network. Operators also suggested Fox News Channel was worth $0.40, closely
followed by Discovery Channel, TNT, CNN,
USA Network, NFL Network,
Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, TBS and The Weather Channel.
The survey is particularly noteworthy given the current debate over whether
cable operators will continue to pay subscription fees for a plethora of
channels that few people are watching. That debate has moved into overdrive as
broadcast network owners have been seeking out new fees, potentially leaving
less for other programmers.
Disney was also described as "very helpful," in selling high-speed
internet, HDTV and video on demand, ranking
top of the list with cable operators; Comcast Cable Networks came second while
Discovery Networks came third.
According to Beta Research, 48% of respondents had more than 100,000
subscribers or more. Interviews were conducted with marketing directors,
general managers and program directors. The survey was conducted between August
and November 2009. A press statement from ESPN said this is the tenth year that
ESPN has been named the most valuable network on their system.