Beta: ESPN Poised for Spending Gains


ESPN topped a Beta Research Corp. survey of advertising executives for the third year in a row.

On a five-point scale, Beta said 89% of survey respondents awarded ESPN a “4” or “5” rating when it comes to brand image. The total-sports network was followed by Discovery Channel (79%); Food Network and TLC (76%); History Channel (74%); and Cable News Network and MTV: Music Television (73%), on brand image scores.

More importantly, the survey suggested that ESPN also stands to realize the most spending gains among basic cable network advertisers, with 48% of respondents indicating they planned to shell out more money for spots on the service.

Advertisers told Beta that they also plan to allocate bigger budgets to Home & Garden Television (49%); Turner Network Television (39%); ESPN2, Food Network, TLC and TBS (36%); Comedy Central (35%); and VH1, Bravo, Discovery Channel and MTV (34%).

Among midsized networks, Oxygen ranked first, with 26% of advertisers saying they would spend more money on the women-targeted channel.

Hallmark and WE: Women’s Entertainment (22% each) also performed well in the survey of 150 advertising executives.

When asked which networks have appealing demos, 76% of respondents picked ESPN. Beta found that other networks with strong demo appeal included Discovery (68%); HGTV and MTV (67%); TLC (66%); Comedy Central and Food Network (65%); and Bravo (64%).

Advertisers said that Scripps Networks made the best upfront presentation last year, with 76% of respondents giving its pitch a 4 or 5 rating. Scripps was followed by MTV Networks (74%); Discovery Networks U.S. (73%); Nickelodeon (69%); and A&E Networks (68%).

Beta said survey results for its Ad Executive Study — Evaluation of Basic Cable/Broadcast Networks, measuring 50 cable channels, ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, were gleaned from telephone interviews with 150 advertising/media professionals last September and October. All of the buyers, planners, directors, supervisors and agency manners were screened and selected based on their involvement in the decision to place ads on cable outlets.

Relative to the upfront questions, the study gauged 30 cable organizations and the four broadcast networks.