Beta: Cable Subs Want Movies


A pair of movie services held the most interest to cable subscribers among digital/emerging networks, according to the latest Beta Research Corp. study.

Among respondents indicating that they were “very interested” in a digital/emerging network service, Fox Movie Channel, for a third straight year, finished first, this time resonating with 57% of survey takers. Hallmark Movie Channel was second, favored by 46%.

The Science Channel (42%), Do It Yourself (41%) and The Biography Channel (40%) were next in the “2004 Beta Research Cable Subscriber Interest Study.”

Rounding out the top 10: History Channel International (39%); FamilyNet (38%); Discovery Home Channel and Lifetime Real Women (35% apiece); and WeatherScan (34%).

Beta officials said Hallmark Movie Channel and Lifetime Real Women ranked highest among women, Science and NFL Network among men and MTV Hits and MTV Jams among teens.

Among larger midsized networks, National Geographic Channel captured the most interest among cable customers with 53% saying that they were very interested in the network. WGN Superstation was second with 50%, ahead of Lifetime Movie Network (48%), Discovery Health Channel (46%), Hallmark Channel (42%), ESPNews and Toon Disney (34% apiece).

Beta’s survey also examined video-on-demand services, and Home Box Office’s HBO On Demand set the pace, garnering strong interest among 35% of respondents. VOD content offerings from Discovery Networks U.S. (33%), The History Channel (32%), ESPN and Starz Encore Group LLC (each with 28%) also struck chords with survey respondents.

Overall, awareness of VOD jumped to 70% in the current study from 67% in the prior-year survey. Additionally, 67% and 89% of respondents said they were familiar with digital-video recorders and HDTV, respectively.

Results came from a syndicated telephone survey, conducted in April and May, of 1,000 cable subscribers who were asked about 39 emerging/digital networks (fewer than 35 million total subscribers), 21 midsized networks (35 million-69 million) and 18 VOD offerings.

Among noncable subscribers, the top-ranked major cable networks (70 million or more subscribers) that attracted strong interest were Discovery Channel with 62% of respondents’ votes, History (52%) and The Learning Channel (43%). Cable News Network, Comedy Central and Disney Channel were next all with 42%.

Among emerging/digital channels, Fox Movie Channel also took the top spot, with 59% of respondents expressing strong interest. History International (55%) and Science (53%) were second and third, respectively.

Relative to midsized networks, LMN shared most-interest honors with Toon Disney, as each registered with 29% of respondents.

Here, Beta gleaned its results from 301 telephone interviews in April and May from a national sample of people who don’t subscribe to either cable or satellite in areas where the former distribution method is available.