In their first head-to-head matchup, basic-cable services outscored the Big Four broadcasters in various brand attributes in Beta Research Corp.'s Brand Identity study.
When asked whether various networks were "entertaining," for example, 73 percent of respondents said they regarded Discovery Channel and Animal Planet thusly. Most respondents also put 13 other cable programmers ahead of TV's Big Four programmers, said Beta, whose results were derived from a January telephone survey of 600 cable subscribers.
Fox was the highest ranked broadcaster (56 percent), followed by ABC (50 percent), NBC (48 percent) and CBS (44 percent).
In terms of being "valuable," three cable services garnered votes from more than 65 percent of the respondents: The Weather Channel (71 percent), Discovery (67 percent) and The History Channel (65 percent). TLC (62 percent), Cable News Network (58 percent) and Home & Garden Television (56 percent) were next.
In terms of quality, consumers gave high grades to Discovery (71 percent), History (68 percent), Disney Channel (65 percent) and TLC (64 percent).
Reacting to the findings, Discovery Networks U.S. executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Bill Goodwyn said: "The results of this study reinforce Discovery Networks' commitment to provide the best of real-world entertainment to viewers."
Discovery's networks also ranked among the top four in being viewed as "distinctive" in consumers' eyes and among the top five in terms of being deemed "informative," Goodwyn added.
When asked about whether a network is perceived as "bold/tries new things," 56 percent chose MTV: Music Television, 51 percent picked TLC and 50 percent tapped Discovery, Beta added.
On the other hand, the average broadcast network scored 49.5 percent in the entertaining listing, 39 percent for high quality, 32 percent as valuable and 29 percent in bold/tries new things.
When it came to paying more attention to commercials on a particular network — a question Beta had not asked in past years — ESPN and ESPN2 fared best among 29 percent and 18 percent of those responding. Rounding out that top five: MTV, HGTV and Cartoon Network. In sharp contrast, 9 percent of respondents, on average, said that about being attentive to ads on the broadcast networks.