Discovery, ESPN: Ad Magnets


Advertisers and ad-agency executives most often named Discovery Channel and ESPN as the cable networks with which they’re most likely to increase ad spending in the next 12 months, according to a survey fielded by Beta Research.

Those results may signal intent to advertise, but the research noted that the study was conducted between August and October of last year, before the stock market dropped drastically and prior to the disastrous Christmas buying season.

However, the ad execs were asked about their intent to increase spending and not to volunteer the amount of any actual increase. Of the 225 advertising professionals queried, 45% named Discovery as the network most likely to receive more ad dollars. Forty-four percent named ESPN, followed by TBS (40%), Food Network (39%), USA Network (38%), HGTV (37%), TNT (35%), ESPN2 and TLC (both 31%) and Comedy Central (30%).

The top two swapped places when ad executives were asked to name the programmers that provide the most innovative and creative multiplatform opportunities by ranking them with four or five points on a five-point scale. Then, 73% of the executives named ESPN/ABC Sports and 61% listed Discovery.

The rest of that list included MTV (59%), Scripps Networks (58%), VH1 (57%), The Weather Channel (54%), Comcast Entertainment Networks and Turner Entertainment (53% each) and CNN Networks and Comedy Central (48% each).

By comparison, only 58% named NBC, the highest-ranked broadcaster, followed by ABC at 56%. Fox, at 44%, and CBS, at 39% were bested by all the ranked cable networks, according to the Beta survey.

But Discovery took the top again when would-be advertisers were asked to rank the networks that offer the most desirable programming environment. Eighty-two percent gave Discovery a four or five rating, followed by ESPN with 80%. The list was rounded out by HGTV (76%), Food Network (75%), TBS and TNT (65% each) ABC Family with 63% and Bravo and History Channel tied with 59%.

Discovery and ESPN were named more often that ABC, the top-ranked broadcaster according to 78% of the panel. NBC scored a 68%, with Fox and CBS scoring 60% each.

This annual poll studies the performance of 52 basic-cable networks and four broadcast networks. Those polled, including 150 representatives from ad agencies and 75 from the advertisers themselves, were selected for their involvement in ad-buying decisions.