Networks that offer informational programs and documentaries have forged strong brand identities in the minds of cable viewers.
That's one of the main conclusions of Beta Research Corp.'s latest study, "Brand Identity of Basic Cable Networks," released April 16.
Of all programmers within the broad basic-cable genre, Fox News Channel scored the most "significant increases in comparison to past surveys," the researcher determined.
Fox News outscored all other news channels among survey respondents in such categories as high quality (68 percent), favorite channel (48 percent), being bold/trying new things (51 percent) and having well-liked hosts/personalities (52 percent), according to Beta.
Beta's most recent survey — which measured 38 basic-cable networks with more than 55 million subscribers — was conducted last January among a random national sample of 600 cable subs. It asked respondents about the brand attributes that best describe various networks.
Along those lines, Discovery Channel (85 percent) ranked first among survey respondents who were asked which network was most entertaining, followed by Animal Planet and Comedy Central (84 percent apiece).
The two Discovery Networks U.S. channels were also the leaders at 71 percent and 69 percent, respectively, among channels that viewers watch to take their mind off current events (a new measure). Home & Garden Television (67 percent) was third.
The survey also ranked Discovery Channel No. 1 among services perceived as offering many original series and programs (72 percent), followed by sister services The Learning Channel (68 percent) and Animal Planet (67 percent).
Scripps Networks' Food Network (66 percent) and HGTV (59 percent) emerged as tops among all cable networks in terms of having well-liked hosts or personalities.
In rating informative networks, respondents put The History Channel out front (94 percent), followed by The Weather Channel (90 percent). Discovery (89 percent), Cable News Network (86 percent) and Fox News (85 percent) rounded out that category's top five.
Discovery Networks U.S. executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Bill Goodwyn was pleased by the fact that Discovery Channel snared the top spot in six of the 12 measured categories. He was also pleased that the company's other networks took top-10 honors in nearly all categories.
ESPN senior vice president of research and sales development Artie Bulgrin called attention to the strong showing that ESPN, ESPN2 and Web site ESPN.com had among men aged 18 to 49.
"For our affiliates and advertisers, [this survey] substantiates the value of the ESPN brand and its enduring strength," he said.