CTAM: Subs Are Finding Diginets


Close to half of the cable industry's digital subscribers started watching a particular channel last year, according to a new Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing study released last week.

In "Testing New Theories on Driving Digital Viewership in the Digital World," based on contact with about 1,200 cable and direct-broadcast satellite households by C&R Research Services Inc., new channel adoption is higher among digital-cable users when compared to analog-cable and direct-broadcast satellite users.

Forty-five percent of digital households responding to CTAM's inquiry, along with 38 percent of the DBS subscribers and 36 percent of analog cable households, said they began watching a new channel that they had not viewed regularly prior to 2002.

Separately, digital cable and satellite customers using interactive program guides to make their viewing choice are more likely to catch new channels than those who do not.

About 46 percent of those surveyed use IPGs on a sampling basis.

Here's the point

The survey aimed to help programmers learn how consumers locate and embrace new channels, and how technology affects the process, CTAM research vice president Clay Conrad said.

Because subscribers turn to IPGs for guidance, programmers should take more care to provide comprehensive information.

"I'd make sure, if I was a programmer, my programs were communicated properly," he said.

Cable operators also will find data to mull over, CTAM president Char Beales said.

"They need to do more promotion of IPGs, educating customers how to use them," she said. "They need to understand how customers operate in the digital environment. And both operators and programmers must master how to use their medium more effectively."

The report also inferred that breakthrough programs are essential to building brand equity for new channels, as well as services with weaker brand equity.

Collier labeled breakthrough programs as fare that "brings on appointment viewing," citing Trading Spaces
on TLC as a solid example.

Some other study findings:

  • Digital and DBS households are shifting away from broadcast-network channels to genre or niche services.
  • More than two-thirds of the respondents turn to channels on which they know what type of programming to expect.