Discovery, ESPN, Turner Top Beta Poll


The various cable networks of Discovery Networks U.S., ESPN and Turner
Broadcasting System Inc. were among the strongest in perceived value, according
to the latest Beta Research Corp. 'Cable Operator Evaluation Study,' released
Monday evening.

In addition, those companies tended to score the highest when it came to
considering their networks' effectiveness in cable operators'
subscriber-acquisition campaigns and local ad-sales efforts.

Those three cable-programmer companies also led the way in cable systems'
eyes when it came to their affiliate Web sites.

Among the highlights in the Beta study:

\u0007 ESPN ranked No. 1 among major or established networks in perceived dollar
value among affiliates, who put that value at $0.94 monthly.

The network, which also ranked first a year ago, was followed this time
around by Discovery Channel ($0.74); Cable News Network and ESPN2 (tied at
$0.71); and Disney Channel ($0.69). The latter edged CNN's sister service, CNN
Headline News ($0.66).

Of the majors, CNN, Headline and Fox News Channel rose in ranking from last
year's listing, Beta said.

\u0007 Food Network led the midsized networks listing at $0.48 monthly, ahead of
Travel Channel ($0.43) and three others tied at $0.41 -- Country Music
Television, Turner Classic Movies and WGN.

\u0007 The most visited affiliate Web site belonged to Discovery Networks (cited
by 56 percent of affiliates surveyed by Beta), with Turner's the runner-up (51

Rounding out the top five in this category were ESPN (48 percent), MTV
Networks (42 percent) and NBC Cable Networks (41 percent), Beta reported.

\u0007 The leaders among basic networks deemed 'most effective for subscriber
acquisitions' were, in unaided mentions, ESPN at 74 percent and CNN at 55

They were followed by Discovery (42 percent) and FNC (25 percent), with
Lifetime Television and The Weather Channel dead even at 24 percent.

\u0007 When it came to networks regarded as 'most helpful for local ad sales,'
ESPN not surprisingly led on an unaided basis among 70 percent of affiliates.
The all-sports network has long led in generating actual local ad sales per

The runner-up was CNN among 51 percent of the operators polled, with Lifetime
(37 percent), USA Network (35 percent) and Discovery (27 percent) rounding out
that top five.

Beta said its annual study was based on a telephone survey of 151 cable
operators' general managers or marketing directors last fall, with the bulk of
the interviews done after Sept. 25 and running through October.

All told, 33 fully distributed basic networks were measured, along with 11
midsized networks.

First out of the gate among networks reacting to their latest Beta rankings
were ESPN and Discovery Networks.

ESPN executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Sean Bratches
-- pointing out that this is the second year in which ESPN was ranked 'the most
valuable network' -- said in a prepared statement that the network 'will
continue to develop ground-breaking sports programming, innovative marketing
campaigns and local ad-sales promotions to enhance our overall value.'

At Discovery, executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Bill
Goodwyn said, 'We're thrilled that our operating partners continue to identify
the Discovery Channel as a business-building tool for their systems.'

Moreover, he cited Travel ranking No. 2 in average perceived value among
midsized networks and No. 1 in systems with 25,000 or more