Beta's Most Wanted: FMC, Discovery Health


Cable subscribers are most interested in Fox Movie Channel and National Geographic Channel among emerging networks and Discovery Health and Turner Classic Movies among midsized services, according to Beta Research Corp.'s latest study.

Beta's Cable Subscriber Interest Study, released last Tuesday, named FMC, NGC, Discovery Civilization and The Biography Channel as the top four emerging networks or diginets, in terms of subscriber interest. Tied for fifth: History Channel International and Discovery's The Science Channel.

Beta conducted its latest telephone survey last June among 1,004 U.S. cable subscribers. Of those, 500 were asked about 42 emerging or digital services, while the rest of the sample was queried on about 14 midsized networks and 20 premium channels.

Emerging networks have less than 35 million subscribers, according to Beta, while the midsized networks count from 35 million to 69 million subscribers.

Respondents rated their interest on a scale of one to five, with five meaning "very interested."

Three of the leaders among emerging networks — FMC (69 percent of respondents), Discovery Civilization (49 percent) and History International (47 percent) — posted gains from a year ago in their interest scores among adults.

NGC was second (59 percent), followed by No. 3 Biography and Discovery Science Channel (47 percent).

FamilyNet, Lifetime Movie Network, Weatherscan Local and Do It Yourself Network rounded out Beta's top 10 ranking among adult cable subscribers.

Beta — which included teenagers in its study for the first time — announced that teens aged 12 to 17 showed the greatest interest in MTV2 (80 percent), followed by FMC (74 percent) and VH1 Mega Hits (61 percent).

Among midsized networks, Beta's latest report — purchased by more than 60 cable programmers — found that Discovery Health Channel and TCM generated the most interest, tied for 50 percent of adult subscribers. WGN (44 percent) and Hallmark Channel (41 percent) were next.

Of the premium plexes, most adults chose HBO Family (49 percent) and Showtime Family Zone (48 percent). They were trailed by HBO2 (45 percent), HBO Comedy (42 percent) and 5 StarMax (41 percent).

Discovery Networks U.S. executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Bill Goodwyn said the Discovery Digital Networks were No. 1 in all categories of interest among emerging-network packages. Discovery Health, he added, ranked first in seven of Beta's 11 categories and within the top five in all 11.

Lifetime noted that LMN was No. 1 in awareness among adult subscribers and, for a fifth straight year, first in interest among adult women.

Fox Cable Networks officials noted that FMC led in eight categories, and that its current showing, in which 69 percent of respondents expressed high interest in the network, was up from 61 percent and 51 percent over the past two years.

NGC ranked first in eight categories in the Beta study, which focused solely on ad-supported diginets, Fox Cable said.