In announcing the results of its first "Ad Executive Study," Beta Research
Corp. said Tuesday that the advertising community found the upfront
presentations by Discovery Networks U.S. and NBC last spring to have the highest
Discovery was the overall leader when it came to upfront pitches, according
to 95 percent of the 300 respondents, with NBC second at 87 percent.
Among cable networks, Scripps Networks and Nickelodeon tied for second (78
percent). That put the latter two in the company of broadcasters ABC (79
percent), CBS and Fox (tied at 77 percent).
Beta added that the other cable programmers given the highest marks on their
upfronts were Lifetime Television (74 percent), A&E Television Networks and
MTV Networks (tied at 73 percent).
The 300 executives included agency media planners, buyers, directors,
supervisors and managers, all pre-screened as having involvement in media-buying
decisions, Beta pointed out.
When asked where they planned to increase ad spending in the coming year,
most of the 300 ad executives -- 39 percent -- cited ESPN, followed closely by
Discovery Channel (34 percent); E! Entertainment Television and USA Network
(tied at 33 percent); and ESPN2, Lifetime and Comedy Central (tied at 32
In a finding somewhat related to that, 80 percent of the ad executives cited
ESPN when it came to networks with the most appealing audience demographics,
followed by Discovery Channel at 71 percent. Among the "Big Four" broadcast
networks, NBC was the distant front-runner at 81 percent, with Fox the closest
runner-up at 62 percent.
Looking at the competence of the various networks' affiliate reps, Beta
learned that Discovery Networks was held in the highest regard by the buying
sector (89 percent), with ESPN/ABC Sports not far behind (86 percent).
A&E Networks ranked third (82 percent), followed by Cable News Network
(80 percent). All of the broadcasters lagged behind those networks, with NBC's
reps deemed most competent, Fox and CBS lumped together at 79 percent and ABC at
Beta conducted this telephone survey last September and October.
In all, 37 ad-supported cable networks and the Big Four broadcast networks
were measured in the study. The upfront-pitch query focused on the four
broadcasters and 27 basic-cable networks.