With CTAM (the Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing) holding "The Summit" in San Francisco this week, there's no doubt that executives in the cable industry will leave the conference with new marketing ideas. VOD, high-speed Internet access and interactive-TV services—designed to drive viewers and keep subscribers—are among the topics being discussed at the Summit.
The question facing the marketing execs when they return to the home office is how do they know which ideas will work, are working and have worked? That's where research companies enter the picture.
The research firms listed on the following pages are suggested contacts from CTAM. In an effort to expand on the information found at CTAM's Web site, we contacted a number of the companies listed, fleshed out their offering for the cable marketing professional, and provided a slice of interesting research that their studies have uncovered.
9705 Patuxent Woods Dr.
Columbia, MD 21046
Going beyond ratings, Arbitron Cable looks to help clients drill deeper into markets and to find out who is watching what. "We can find out, for example, what stores are patronized by MTV viewers," says Marketing and Client Services Representative Sheena Lewis. In a departure from ratings information, this Arbitron unit provides customized studies for cable operators and networks keying demographics together with lifestyle patterns and viewing habits.
"We tend to get more depth of information for the larger markets, in terms of the stores listed and competitive media information," Lewis notes.
According to Scarborough's qualitative multimarket study, The Discovery Channel network is No. 1 among persons 18+, with A&E and The Weather Channel close behind.
Ashcraft Research (ARI)
625 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 500
Chicago, IL 60611
ARI makes use of personal, online and telephone surveys to find viewer response to current and potential cable networks. According to President Laurie Ashcraft, this includes consumer reaction to slogans, logos and network advertising.
ARI also evaluates potential network spin-offs using a methodology called Rounds Channel Optimization. In this approach, not only do respondents select the elements that they would favor in a new network (such as format, genre, pricing and advertising), but these elements are spelled out in an integrated, rather than a linear, fashion.
ARI also has a syndicated attitudinal study, investigating the inner feelings of teenagers and young adults.
TV movies are a safety valve for stressed teens as 53% of teens who report that they feel they might "explode" from the pressure say they watch a lot of movies on TV vs. 34% of less-pressured teens. (Source: GenY2K Report, Nickles & Ashcraft Chicago)
6400 Jericho Turnpike
Syosset, NY 11791
"We measure things other than viewership—other than what Nielsen does," notes Andy Klein, president of Beta Research's Cable Television Division. Customized studies are mostly for the fully distributed basic-cable networks which use the research primarily for affiliate relations and affiliate sales. The research covers areas such as perceived value and satisfaction.
Beta also publishes eight syndicated studies. Two of them deal with cable operators; three, with cable subscribers; and one each, with the subjects of digital cable subscribers, satellite service users, and nonsubscribers to cable and satellite services.
In the 2000 Beta Research Cable Subscriber Interest Study, new emerging/ digital networks achieving the highest interest among cable subscribers were HBO Family (52%), MoviePlex (51%), Fox Movie Channel (51%) and Discovery Science Channel (48%).
Booth Research Services
1120 Hope Rd., Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30350
Booth has researched some highly specific situations for cable operators via telephone research. In addition to general surveys on customer satisfaction, attitudes toward program services, and price sensitivity, it has investigated interest in new services for systems in which a limited number of slots are available. President Pete Booth adds, "Where systems straddle two major TV markets, we've explored where viewers want the network affiliates to come from."
According to its studies of the rates of digital-cable penetration, the customer's interest in digital cable is not affected by the particular digital-cable-service packages that are offered and, in fact, is not much affected by the pricing of these packages.
Burke ICE Research
One Morningside North
Westport, CT 06880
For cable-system operators and satellite service providers, Burke researches overall satisfaction with the scope of service provided, desire to remain a subscriber and willingness to recommend the service to others. Vice President Cary Nadel notes, "We build a composite measure of loyalty, embracing all the elements. We also investigate optimal pricing for new services as well as potential pay-per-view usage, estimating the total revenue of this service."
Television viewing and Internet surfing peacefully coexist, as heavier television viewers spend more time online than do light television viewers. The converse is true as well. For example, those who spend 16 or more hours per week watching TV spend an average of 14.7 hours online. And heavy online users (16 or more hours) average 21.4 hours of TV per week.
C&R Research Services
500 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1200
Chicago, IL 60611
Although C&R continues to do traditional telephone, mail and focus-group research, it has moved heavily into PC-based studies. It uses the Internet in KidzEyes, a panel of 6- to 14-year-olds for research on kid-appeal programming. While the children receive prizes for answering questions on attitudes toward programming and commercials, Senior Vice President Jeff Berman notes that the methodology is compliant with children's privacy provisions.
The Crimson methodology involves a self-administered interview on a PC that delivers video, either on the Web or via mall intercept. The approach has been used for commercial testing as well as in answering cable operators' concerns when they consider new networks. The technique also has been used to test network promotional spots.
16133 Ventura Blvd., Suite 625
Encino, CA 91436
E-Poll is an online polling service that delivers audience research and interactive technology to the entertainment industry. Its signature service, The Edge, has numerous polling applications to aid in accurately surveying consumers for timely, in-depth data. In addition, E-Poll offers syndicated research and E-Scores for an immediate likability/awareness gauge on talent, programs or show concepts.
According to a study titled "Women in Daytime," 62% of women who are home in the daytime watch less television than they did three years ago. Only 18% watched more, and 19.8% watched the same amount.
Norman Hecht Research
P.O. Box 698
33 Queens St.
Syosset, NY 11791
Qualitative measurement of newscasts by Hecht examines such aspects as talent, features, pacing and style. Most of this research is done by telephone, CEO Norman Hecht reports, but focus groups also are used. For cable networks, Hecht conducts interviews with MSO and advertising-agency executives to determine their satisfaction with the networks as performers for the systems or as advertising media.
An average of 70% of news viewers have access to the Internet. The majority use the Internet at home.
1971 Palmer Ave.
Larchmont, NY 10538
Howard Horowitz, president of Horowitz Associates, reports that cable-operator clients are investigating consumer attitudes not only toward their own services but also toward alternative service providers. Typical surveys involve new programming choices and responses to various price and packaging alternatives. This extends to such potential services as cable modems and telephony. Generally, telephone research and focus groups are employed. Online research, however, is used primarily in assessing Web-oriented services.
Horowitz also conducts research among systems and MSOs for their programmers. Used for competitive strategy and sales purposes, these studies concentrate on how the networks perform in the particular cable-system environment.
Multicultural consumers and young people show the highest interest in interactivity. Using the remote to go to a Web site through the TV, send/receive
e-mail through the TV, and interactive games are the top three interactive features of interest to multicultural consumers.
900 West Shore Rd.
Port Washington, NY 11050
The heart of the NPD operation is a prescreened-consumer panel of 400,000 households. It also has an online panel of 600,000 homes. These panels are used for a range of research, and Vice President Jo-Ann Osipow points out some of the firm's newer activity. "A lot of cable folks are interested in development of high-speed Internet access," she comments, "and we determine demand for it, optimum pricing and the capabilities that can be built in. They're also interested in knowing the profiles of their viewers and of visitors to their Web sites, along with their interest in digital capabilities and what they're willing to pay for them."
"In one of our recent projects, we found that cable-modem users have high incomes and they primarily use the cable modem because they want a high-speed connection and a connection that is always on," Osipow says. "They have higher incomes, and they don't mind spending a little extra per month for the convenience of a cable connection."
1 Bridge Plaza
Fort Lee, NJ 07024
Out-of-home viewing is one of the more unusual aspects of Leflein's research. According to President Barbara Leflein, surveying sometimes is done in bars, hotels and country clubs. This is in addition to surveys by telephone, mail and mall intercepts, with focus groups, and via the Internet. Clients are primarily cable networks, which want information ranging from typical qualitative information to assessment of the effectiveness of sponsorships. Much of the testing of on-air promotions and other advertising by cable networks is done in tandem with repositioning and branding efforts, she says. Price-sensitivity analysis on pay and bundled services is helping the networks to determine fee strategies.
20% of male business travelers would likely find another hotel if ESPN were not carried on free in their room's TV. The potential annual loss if ESPN were not carried, combining revenues from room reservations and bar expenditures, ranges from $428,000 a year for the average mid-scale hotel to $644,000 a year for a luxury hotel.
Frank N. Magid Associates
1775 Broadway, Suite 1401
New York, NY 10019
Customized strategic research from Magid includes cable-subscriber surveys on price-point sensitivity of such services as video-on-demand, other interactive services and bundled services. Managing Director Jill Rosengard says that studies help cable networks determine prospective audiences for niche networks. While telephone surveys of target audiences are the norm, focus groups are used to test interactive services.
Concept testing in malls and in-home observations are used in attitudinal studies on new services, determining whether these services appeal to the viewer, live up to promises and warrant additional viewing. Magid has tested such video-recording devices as ReplayTV and TiVo for advertisers as well as testing electronic programming guides for ease of use.
Just over half of all TV viewers say they have noticed programs on TV that invite viewer participation over the phone or via a related Web site. However, only 9% of those viewers who have noticed (or 5% of all adults 18+) have actually taken the time to participate. Nearly half of all 18- to 34-year-olds (46%) were more likely to participate if they could use the remote.
1005 Old Columbia Rd.
Columbia, MD 21046-1702
Mediance Research, a service of Millennium Networks, offers what Executive Vice President and COO Jim Dennison describes as a state-of-the-art, end-to-end cable-audience-measurement service delivering large sample sizes, complete subscriber tuning information, and anytime, anywhere customizable reporting. The Audience Engine technology enables continuous collection of tuning information, scalable to the needs of any cable system. With both research and technology expertise, Mediance provides quantitative and qualitative research, maximizing advertising and marketing productivity.
Events that have local interest, such as severe weather, basketball playoffs or high-profile news, can drive ratings for cable channels like CNN and The Weather Channel into double digits that exceed the ratings for local broadcast affiliates.
Myers Consulting Group
156 West 56th St.
New York, NY 10019
The business-to-business aspect of the broadcast and cable industries is the concern of custom and published research from Myers Reports, according to Chief Economist Jack Myers. For example, custom reports on interactive TV explore the attitudes and experiences of cable operators, advertisers and technology suppliers. There is some consumer data as well. Myers also does custom forecasts of revenues, penetration, deployment and preferences for media products, mostly through mailed and e-mailed surveys within the industry. Cable networks are served with value analyses among cable operators and advertisers.
In 2003, interactive-TV revenue in the U.S. will be $1.068 billion.
Nielsen Media Research
299 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10171-0074
Nielsen's well-known syndicated-audience measurement is a starting point for a range of custom services. For example, cable networks can analyze their audiences in terms of both duration of viewing and the number of days viewed over a period of time. Duplication analysis indicates who watched two or more of a given group of separate programs. Programs also are analyzed in terms of co-viewing among family members.
Senior Vice President of Communications Jack Loftus reports that comparisons are being made on cable-network viewing in systems providing lower-channel positions vs. that on higher channels. Programs that are viewed before and after a given program are also tabulated.
400 Blue Hill Dr., Suite 350
Westwood, MA 02090
Employing the gamut of methodologies, Research Communications uses samples ranging from a hundred to thousands for quantitative data and smaller samples, which rely more on interviews, for qualitative information. President Valerie Crane, notes that segmentation studies help cable networks determine their positions in the marketplace and which audience will allow them to achieve the highest ratings and the greatest revenue. They are also assisted in differentiating their networks from others—for example, finding a niche separate from the crisis-coverage orientation of CNN and the issue-oriented approach of Fox News Channel.
As indicated in RCL research, local-news-product scores, as rated by local- news viewers, are dropping at a significant pace. In the '80s, it was common for many local-news providers to score in the low 70s on a 100-point scale. In 2000, the average local-news-product scores were in the high 50s. Product scores have declined four points in the past 10 years. Also, most viewers feel that local news is no longer relevant to their lives. There has been a 6% decline in ratings of content relevance over the past 10 years.
Reymer & Associates
20300 Civic Center Dr., Suite 401
Southfield, MI 48076
Telephone, mail and online surveys answer typical questions for cable operators and networks, and Reymer has also moved into research for Web sites, using e-mailed invitations to participate. As in the cable studies, according to President Arnold S. Reymer, the Web-site research covers consumer satisfaction, preferences, demographics, recognition and consumer behavior. Studies for cable operators also cover packaging, tiering and interest in new technologies. For cable networks, Reymer studies such matters as interest in prospective programming.
10130 G Colvin Run Rd.
Great Falls, VA 22066-1893
One of the most frequent studies done by Rockbridge is the classic brand-tracking study for cable networks. President Charles Colby says it looks at the network's competitive position over time, including awareness, satisfaction with viewing, preference vs. other networks, image in terms of the audience it is believed to attract, trustworthiness, and how often and how long it is watched. These surveys, with answers compared against those for rival networks, are usually done by telephone.
Talmey-Drake Research & Strategy
100 Arapahoe, Suite 1
Boulder, CO 80306
Telephone research is most frequently used in cable operators' studies that are often spurred by franchising authorities either when franchises are up for renewal or when changes are in demand. Subscribers' desires and willingness to pay for bundled services are typical questions, according to President Paul Talmey.
For ad-supported cable networks, the firm determines interest in present and future programming. Pricing attitudes toward pay services are measured both for MSOs and for the services themselves. MSOs have been using Talmey-Drake to investigate barriers toward using pay-per-view as well as optimum pricing for it. For those deciding between video-on-demand and near-video-on-demand, the researcher has explored what viewers are willing to pay for one vs. the other.
410 Horsham Rd.
Horsham, PA 19044
In addition to its customized services, TNS offers the lower-cost approach of a shared vehicle, its Express omnibus method. Express is a 1,000-respondent telephone survey done every Wednesday, with data delivered the following Monday. Senior Vice President, Media and Entertainment, Edye Twer describes this as an efficient approach for media concerns with just a single question or a brief series of questions.
About 30% of U.S. households do not subscribe to cable TV. Of these, 54% would subscribe only if they could customize the channel selection, 32% would do so if an Internet subscription were included in the cost, 34% don't know which company provides cable in their area, 22% would choose to get cable from their phone company instead of the local cable company, and 16% simply hate TV.