A&E, MSOs Try to Understand Digital

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To help better understand viewing preferences of cable-television households
and gauge the satisfaction levels of emerging digi-nets, A&E Television
Networks partnered with three of the top 10 MSOs and The Artemis Group on a
study released late last month.

The yearlong study tracked 2,850 digital and analog customers of AT&T
Broadband, Charter Communications Inc. and Insight Communications Co. Inc. The
operators worked with A&E to help determine what influenced digital-cable
retention.

'More channels and more choices' topped the list of key reasons consumers
chose to subscribe to digital cable, according to survey results.

Documentaries and biographical profiles topped the list of programming genres
that attracted the most loyal digital-cable customers, according to A&E,
which owns services that feed into those genres, including The History Channel
and Biography Channel.

Direct-broadcast satellite providers were not included in the study. A&E
director of digital sales and special markets Walter Oden could not say whether
DBS customers were any more or less likely to be susceptible to churn as
digital-cable customers.

Aside from more channels and more choices, consumers turned to digital cable
for its clearer pictures, special promotions offered by operators and the
variety of programming available, according to the study.

Reasons cited less often included 'only choice given by customer-service
rep,' more premium channels, interactive programming guide, good value, better
sound quality, additional channel availability, personal recommendation and
music channels.

Specific channels -- such as History Channel International, Biography and
Lifetime Movie Network -- each scored 1 percent or less among reasons listed for
switching to digital cable.

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