Beta: Sports Nets Valuable to Subs

Cable operators and sports programmers are certainly at odds over the pricing of those services, but subscribers evidently place a high value upon them.

ESPN and Fox Sports Net ranked first and second among major networks with an average perceived monthly value of $1.96 and $1.86, respectively, according to the latest study from Beta Research Corp.

The Syosset, N.Y.-based firm’s "2003 Cable Subscriber Study -- Evaluation of Basic Cable Networks" found that Discovery Channel ranked third with an average perceived monthly value of $1.86, ahead of Lifetime Television ($1.81), ESPN2 ($1.78) and Disney Channel ($1.76).

Rounding out the top 10 among major networks: The Learning Channel ($1.71); The History Channel ($1.65); and Cartoon Network, Cable News Network and Fox News Channel, all at $1.58.

Among midsized networks, WE: Women’s Entertainment was first at $1.52, ahead of Trinity Broadcast Network ($1.49), ESPN Classic ($1.45) and Speed Channel ($1.43).

Relative to the quality of the service, Discovery Channel, for the 15th consecutive year -- every one of Beta’s surveys for this classification -- was the leader among large networks.

According to the survey, 81% of respondents gave Discovery a 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale. That topped ESPN’s 79%; History and TLC, both at 75%; and Disney and The Weather Channel, each at 74%.

The Beta survey’s top-ranked midsized services were Hallmark Channel (66%), WE (59%), TBN (57%) and ESPN Classic (55%).

Results for the study were compiled from a syndicated telephone survey from Aug. 18-Sept. 13 among a national sample of 1,007 cable subscribers. The study measured 40 fully distributed channels and 10 midsized networks.