Beta: ESPN, Discovery Tops in Value


ESPN topped the latest Beta Research Corp. cable-operator study on networks'
perceived value to affiliates, while the Discovery Networks U.S. affiliate Web
site got the most praise.

In the Beta study, released Thursday, affiliates assigned a perceived value
of 90 cents per month to ESPN, with runner-up Discovery Channel well behind at
73 cents, followed by Disney Channel and The Weather Channel, tied at 70 cents

ESPN2 rounded out the top five, with operators saying that network was worth
an average of 69 cents per month to them.

Discovery Networks' affiliates-only Web site was the most visited (by 46
percent of the operator respondents), according to the Beta survey. ESPN's and Turner Broadcasting
System Inc.
's sites followed at 39 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

When asked which of the affiliate Web sites were 'excellent or very good,' 80
percent chose Discovery versus 70 percent for ESPN and 69 percent for

Beta surveyed 154 cable operators via telephone in September and October.

The research firm also asked operators which basic or expanded networks were
the most effective for subscriber acquisition (unaided mentions) and 74 percent
cited ESPN, followed by Discovery (54 percent) and Cable News Network (40

Asked which networks were most helpful for local advertising sales, ESPN
again won out (77 percent), followed by CNN (52 percent) and USA Network (40

All told, Beta measured 39 fully distributed basic-cable networks (those with
50 million subscribers or more) and 15 midsized networks (15 million to 50
million subscribers).