ESPN Still Tops With Operators: Beta

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Operators might lament ESPN's high licensing fees, but the sports and entertainment network remains the most valued channel among cable operators, according to a 2003 Beta Research cable-operator study on channel carriage released last week.

ESPN and ESPN2 ranked first and second among major networks, with an average monthly perceived value at $0.91 and $0.65 respectively, according to the study. Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite ($0.61), Disney Channel ($0.57) and Discovery Channel ($0.53) rounded out the top five.

ESPN Classic led the field of midsized networks with a perceived value of 39 cents per month, followed by Discovery Health Channel ($0.36) and National Geographic Channel ($0.35).

Do It Yourself Network was tagged as the network operators are most interested in carrying, with 76% of 151 cable operators polled saying that they want to launch the Scripps Networks-owned service by the end of 2004.

PBS Kids and The Outdoor Channel were requested by 60% of respondents, followed by Noggin (58%), and SoapNet and Sundance Channel (54%).

Among midsized networks, Lifetime Movie Network was tops among operators with 74%, followed by National Geographic Channel (72%), Hallmark Channel (69%), TechTV (63%) and WE: Women's Entertainment (61%).

Upstart CSTV: College Sports Television (56%) and The Hallmark Channel (12%) placed first among top-ranked emerging networks and mid-sized networks, respectively.

Discovery Channel was the most-mentioned basic network among operators with regards to helping operators sell broadband and high-speed Internet services, followed by Tech TV, ESPN, MTV: Music Television, Cable News Network and Oxygen.

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