HBO, CNN Up, Viacom Down Among 'Must Keep TV' Brands

Annual survey sees ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox atop list, followed by Discovery
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The big-four broadcast networks (led by ABC) once again top an annual survey of "must-keep" TV brands, which showed strength this election year for CNN, Discovery and for Game of Thrones home HBO but weakness among Viacom's brands other than BET.

The top four on the list were the same broadcast networks, in the same order, for the third consecutive year. Discovery vaulted into fifth place, as the top cable brand, in this ninth annual edition of the survey by Solutions Research Group. HBO ranked sixth, its highest placement since 2007, followed by ESPN (which was No. 5 in 2015), A&E (up to No. 8 from No. 12 in 2015), History and The CW. PBS was ranked 11th after being in the top 10 for three years in a row, and AMC slipped to No. 12 from 10th in 2015. (Here are stories from last year and two years ago.)

CNN's standing at No. 13 was the best since SRG began doing the survey in 2007: it had only finished in the top 20 once before, in another election year, 2008. 

SRG observed some falloff among Viacom's MTV Networks stable: none of the channels cracked the top 20, which had not happened before. Comedy Central ranked No. 25, out of the top 20 for the first time. BET, at No. 40 and fourth among African-American viewers surveyed, was the only Viacom brand not to decline this year, per SRG.

Among women ages 25-54, the top four were ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. A&E and AMC made the top 10 in this category for the first time; Food and Disney returned to the top 10 while History (no. 15) and Lifetime (No. 22) fell out of last year's perches in the top 10.

Among African-Americans surveyed, ABC was the top brand followed by Fox for the first time and then CBS, BET and NBC. Brands on the rise among this group this year included AMC, A&E. Cartoon Network, USA and FX, SRG said.

Among Latinos, ABC again was tops, followed by Fox, CBS, HBO, A&E, FX and NBC. Upward trenders this year included A&E, Disney, AMC, Nickelodeon and MTV.

Netflix users -- most of whom still have pay-TV subscriptions -- rated ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC at the top of their "must-keep" lists, followed in order by HBO, A&E, AMC, ESPN, The CW and Discovery.

Among households with $100,000 or more in annual income, the top 10 brands are ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, HBO, A&E, CNN, ESPN, AMC and Discovery.

"Must Keep TV Report" survey particulars: research is based on online surveys with 1,400 U.S. consumers age 12 or older conducted in April 2016. Respondents are shown a list of 73 leading networks and cable channels and are asked to pick which would be on their "must keep TV" lists if they had to choose a limited number. Sample design is balanced by geography, gender and ethnicity, including African-American and English-speaking Hispanics, SRG said. For more, see SRG's web site