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Beta: Nat Geo Sparks Most Sub Interest

The recently launched National Geographic Channel generated the most cable-subscriber interest among emerging/digital networks, according to the latest Beta Research Corp. study, released last week.

According to the "2001 Beta Cable Subscriber Interest Study," conducted last June, 61 percent of subscribers express "high interesting in viewing" Nat Geo.

In all, 507 respondents were asked about 43 emerging or digital networks, described by the Syosset, N.Y.-headquartered Beta as channels having less than 15 million subscribers.

In a joint statement, National Geographic Channel president Laureen Ong and Fox Cable Networks Group executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Lindsay Gardner pointed out that the newcomer also led among men subscribers, adults 18 to 34, adults 18 to 49 and adults 25 to 54.

The Biography Channel was the runner-up in the emerging category, with 52 percent highly interested in viewing. It was followed by Discovery Science Channel (48 percent), Lifetime Movie Network (45 percent) and Weatherscan Local and FamilyNet (tied at 44 percent).

The latter two independently-owned services made the Beta study for the first time, the researcher pointed out. The Fort Worth, Texas-based FamilyNet released a statement boasting that it also ranked third among women subscribers, fourth among adults 18 to 34 and fifth with parents of children age 12 or under.

In a statement, A&E Television Networks' noted that Biography Channel ranked second among adults 18 to 34 and 18 to 49, as well as two other categories, and that History International finished among the top 10 in three other measurements.

At Discovery Networks U.S., executive vice president Bill Goodwyn emphasized that Discovery Kids ranked first among parents with kids aged 12 and under and among the top five with adults 18 to 34 and 18 to 49.

Lifetime Entertainment Services' statement touted LMN's first-place finishes among women subscribers and from an awareness standpoint with both adults and women in the 18-to-34 segment.

Rounding out Beta's emerging/digital networks top 10: Do-It-Yourself Network (43 percent), Discovery Civilization Channel (39 percent), Discovery Health Channel and History International (tied at 38 percent) and Toon Disney and Discovery Kids Channel (tied at 35 percent).

Looking at 14 mid-sized networks — defined as having between 15 million and 49 million subscribers — Beta found that 52 percent of the 507 respondents preferred Turner Classic Movies, followed by WGN (39 percent), TV Land and Bravo (tied at 36 percent) and ESPN Classic (33 percent).

In other findings: three-fourths of consumers chose the Discovery package (74 percent) among ad-supported digital packages, followed by the MTV/VH1 Suite (50 percent), while 61 percent cited Fox Movie Channel among commercial-free movie networks, followed by Movieplex, HBO Comedy, 5 StarMax and HBO Family.