Cable operators are most interested in adding Home &
Garden Television to their basic service next year, and Discovery Communications Inc.'s
digital networks are the top-ranked emerging networks, according to the most recent survey
of cable operators by Beta Research Corp.
And despite the cries that analog space is virtually
nonexistent, a majority of operators -- 73 percent -- plan to add at least one service to
basic and expanded basic by the end of 1999, the survey found.
Of those that do plan to add, 27 percent said they will add
four to six networks to basic and expanded basic. And 20 percent of those adding to basic
will introduce 10 or more analog services.
"There will be a fair number of channels launched on
basic and expanded basic," said Andy Klein, president of Beta's cable-television
Syosset, N.Y.-based Beta conducted 150 phone interviews in
September for its survey, in which the names of a number of newly launched networks showed
up for the first time ever. Those included Toon Disney, Discovery's digi-nets, ZDTV and
Noggin, the kids' educational channel that Nickelodeon will debut next year.
Of the operators that are planing to add channels to basic
in the next year, 20 percent are "most interested" in launching HGTV; 16 percent
in Animal Planet; and 15 percent in TV Land, according to the survey.
Of the operators that have or that will have digital tiers,
72 percent were interested in carrying Toon Disney by the end of 1999; 71 percent in
Discovery's digi-nets; 62 percent each in CNNfn, Lifetime Movie Network and Noggin; and 61
percent in CNN/SI.
Of the total survey sample, the top-ranked midsized network
that operators were interested in adding was TV Land, with 42 percent citing it. The
top-ranked emerging/digital networks among the whole survey sample were the Discovery
digi-nets, with 64 percent.
In a second Beta study, cable subscribers were asked to
evaluate various cable networks.
In terms of emerging and digital networks, subscribers were
most interested in viewing FXM: Movies from Fox (49 percent); Lifetime Movie Network (46
percent); Discovery's digi-nets (45 percent); Encore Media Group's movie networks (41
percent); Toon Disney and America's Health Network (31 percent each); CNN/SI, ESPNews and
The Independent Film Channel (30 percent each); Fox Sports World (28 percent); CNNfn and
Wam! America's Kids Network (27 percent each); Romance Classics and ZDTV (26 percent
each); and The Outdoor Channel (25 percent).
When asked which fully distributed networks were most
important to their enjoyment of cable, subscribers ranked The Weather Channel No. 1, with
a rating of 80 percent.