News

Nevers and Formers Ripe for Dish Sales

5/03/1998 8:00 PM Eastern

People who don't subscribe to cable and former cable
customers are increasingly interested in owning a satellite dish, according to a new study
by Beta Research Corp.

Among nonsubscribers to cable, the number who said they
owned a satellite dish increased from 10 percent last year to 14 percent this year. Among
former cable subscribers, 18 percent said they owned a dish, while 9 percent of those
surveyed who were direct-broadcast satellite subscribers said they never subscribed to
cable.

The survey also found that among non-dish owners, 20
percent said they were interested in purchasing a dish in the next six months. Interest
was highest among former cable subscribers (27 percent) and nonsubscribers age 18 to 34
(30 percent).

And the Beta report noted that "a notable segment of
nonsubscribers are open to sales pitches from both cable and satellite-dish
companies."

The Beta Non-Subscriber Study also measured viewing
interest in specific cable networks, with Discovery Channel garnering the highest interest
by a wide margin, followed by The Learning Channel, Cable News Network and The Weather
Channel.

Asked why cable's highest-rated basic networks such as
USA Network, Turner Network Television, TBS Superstation and Lifetime Television failed to
rank highly, Andy Klein, president of Beta's cable TV division, said respondents
measured the networks more in "terms of satisfaction."

Ratings results, he said, were bound to be different
because they reflected people watching "the least objectionable programming or a
specific series at a given time."

In a survey, he said, interest in specific channels would
be more affected by factors such as a clear brand and image identity and marketing
campaigns.

An executive for one of the highly rated cable networks
that did not score well in the survey said niche networks that were easy to define
typically did better than broad-based networks in these types of surveys.

"I call it the PBS factor," the executive
commented. "People always say they watch PBS [the Public Broadcasting Service] but
they don't. In reality, people may want to watch PBS or think they should say they
watch PBS, but they end up watching something more entertaining."

Alan Bergstrom, president and CEO of The Brand Consultancy,
said the discrepancy between networks scoring high in awareness but low in ratings
underscored what he said was a growing trend in marketing away from branding for
awareness.

"Awareness is relatively meaningless if it's not
targeted against an audience most likely to actually watch the network," he said.

Bergstrom said the results of the Beta survey appeared to
indicate that some companies are spending "a lot of money" on branding
"among segments not relevant to the network."

Klein did point out that several highly rated major
networks such as TBS, USA, and ESPN scored high among nonsubscribers age 18 to 34.

The Disney Channel and the History Channel scored highest
in interest among noncable subscribers, while America's Health Network and Romance
Classics were the highest ranked "emerging" networks.

The results of the survey were based on 502 telephone
interviews with a national sample of nonsubscribers to cable in areas where cable is
available.

More than 40 cable networks -- along with a number of other
media companies and MSOs -- purchase, on a subscription basis, the Beta surveys, Klein
said.

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