Beta Names Top `Quality' Nets

Food Network, ESPN Classic, CMT: Country Music Television, Hallmark Channel
and Speedvision ranked as the favorite midsized cable networks in terms of
program quality, according to Beta Research Corp.'s 2001 Cable Subscriber

Sixty-three percent of cable subscribers who viewed the channel preferred
Food, followed by ESPN Classic (59 percent), CMT and Hallmark (tied at 58
percent) and Speedvision (57 percent).

Beta defined midsized networks as those that reach 35 million to 68 million
cable subscribers.

Among the major networks, Discovery Channel (80 percent), The History Channel
(78 percent), ESPN (76 percent) and The Learning Channel (75 percent) were the
front-runners in terms of program quality, according to the cable subscribers
who viewed those channels, Beta reported.

Rounding out the top 10 majors in program quality were Cable News Network (74
percent), The Weather Channel (73 percent), CNN Headline News (72 percent),
Disney Channel (71 percent), ESPN2 (70 percent) and Fox Sports Net (68

When it came to ranking the cable programmers by their 'importance to the
enjoyment of cable,' Discovery and Food again led in their respective

Twenty-seven percent cited Food among midsized networks, a hair ahead of
Turner Classic Movies (26 percent), followed by superstation WGN (18 percent)
and ESPN Classic (17 percent).

Among the majors, Discovery was No. 1 at 64 percent, followed by History (53
percent), CNN and Weather (tied at 50 percent), and ESPN and Headline News (tied
at 44 percent).

When asked about perceived the value of the various major networks, cable
subscribers again put Discovery on top, at $1.84 per month -- ahead of ESPN
($1.81), History ($1.79) and TLC ($1.77).

Those were trailed by Cartoon Network ($1.71), Disney and Lifetime Television
(tied at $1.63), Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite ($1.61), CNN ($1.60) and Headline News

Inspirational programmer TBN: Trinity Broadcasting Network led in the
midsized classification. Its $1.61 placed it well ahead of the more widely known
CMT ($1.37), ESPN Classic ($1.27), Food ($1.26), TCM ($1.25) and TV Land

Beta also found that each of the four cable news services notched
'significant increases' in perceived value and in other subscriber perceptions
(such as importance and program quality) since the Sept. 11 terrorist

MSNBC, at $1.31 per month, trailed Headline News in perceived dollar value,
with CNBC at $1.17 and Fox News Channel at $1.13.

All five news programmers were up considerably from their perceived value of
a year ago, which then ranged from $1.02 (for FNC) to $1.33 (for CNN).

After the Beta study was released on Tuesday, Discovery Networks U.S.
executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Bill Goodwyn noted
that Discovery has been No. 1 for eight straight years in terms of subscriber
enjoyment, perceived dollar value and unaided mentions of favorite channels.

The network has also ranked first in program quality for 13 consecutive
years, he said. 'We're pleased that the quality of our flagship brand continues
to result in benefits year after year for our operating partners.'

ESPN senior vice president of research and sales development Artie Bulgrin
cited ESPN and ESPN2's strong showings in the Beta survey. They finished first
and second in program quality among men 18 to 34 and ESPN Classic the top-ranked
mid-sized service among men 18 to 49.

Lifetime called attention to its lead among women in perceived value ($1.96)
and in unaided mentions of favorite channels, while A&E Television Networks
cited A&E Network's No. 4 rank among favorite for those in households making
more than $75,000 per year, as well as History's No. 1 rank among $75,000-plus
households in program quality.

Beta's conducted its telephone interviews from Aug. 27 through Sept. 10 and
from Sept. 25 through Oct. 12, with 600 of the 1,013 adults 18 and older
interviewed after Sept. 11.