Survey Finds Diginet Allure Wanes

10/20/2002 8:00 PM Eastern

Subscribers to the top 10 diginets said they perceive the monetary value of those services as between $1.40 and $1.89 per month, Beta Research Corp. said last week in its latest Digital Cable Subscriber Study.
The report also found a declining interest in digital service among cable customers, some of whom expressed interest in direct-broadcast satellite.

According to this latest survey — for which Beta interviewed 912 adult digital-cable customers and 125 teens via telephone last July — Discovery Kids Channel topped the perceived-value list. Viewers priced it at $1.89 per month.

Rounding out the top five: MTV Jams ($1.74 per month); Toon Disney ($1.71); Lifetime Movie Network ($1.66); and Nickelodeon Games & Sports ($1.60).

ESPNNews was deemed to be worth $1.55, while Fox Movie Channel and Noggin/The N were tied at $1.53. National Geographic Channel, at $1.43; and VH1 Soul, at $1.40, completed Beta's list.

Beta based its perceived-value figures on the price that consumers felt each service would be worth to them — and other members of their households — if sold separately.

In general, 42 percent of adults found digital cable to be better than they expected, while 20 percent said it failed to live up to expectations. But only 44 percent of customers said they would "definitely continue digital cable," down sharply from 55 percent a year ago, according to Beta.

And 27 percent of digital-cable subscribers were "at least fairly interested in ordering a satellite-dish service" — about the same as a year ago.

All told, Beta measured interest in 34 basic diginets carried by most of the systems covered in the survey — eight cable systems affiliated with AT&T Broadband, Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc.

Asked to choose their favorite ("most liked and viewed") networks, Lifetime Movie Channel was cited most often with unaided recall (by 24 percent of respondents). It was followed by Biography Channel (17 percent), ESPN Classic (16 percent) and Fox Movie Channel (13 percent).

The balance of the top 10 included several ties: Discovery Civilization Channel and Independent Film Channel (12 percent each); History Channel International, NGC and WE: Women's Entertainment (11 percent apiece); and BBC America, ESPNews, The Science Channel and Fox Sports World (all at 10 percent).

Thirty-six percent of adults said they'd watched LMN over the past seven days, followed by Biography at 32 percent. ESPNews led viewing among men, LMN among women and MTV2 among teens, Beta said

In terms of viewer satisfaction, ESPNews and NGC were tops (65 percent and 64 percent, respectively).

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