Beta: Subs Want Movies

A pair of movie services held the most interest for cable subscribers among digital/emerging networks, according to the latest Beta Research Corp. study.

Respondents who indicated they were “very interested” in a digital/emerging network service ranked Fox Movie Channel first for a third straight year.

This time, Fox Movies resonated with 57% of survey-takers.

Hallmark Movie Channel was second, favored by 46%.

The Science Channel (42%), Do It Yourself (41%) and The Biography Channel (40%) were next in the “2004 Beta Research Cable Subscriber Interest Study.”

Rounding out the top 10: History Channel International (39%); FamilyNet (38%); Discovery Home and Lifetime Real Women (35%); and Weatherscan (34%).

Beta officials said Hallmark Movie Channel and Lifetime Real Women ranked highest among women; Science and The NFL Network among men; and MTV Hits and MTV Jams among teens.

Of the larger midsized networks, National Geographic Channel captured the most interest among cable customers: 53% said they were very interested in the network.

WGN Superstation was second with 50%, ahead of Lifetime Movie Network (48%), Discovery Health (46%), Hallmark Channel (42%), ESPNews and Toon Disney (34% apiece).


Beta’s survey also examined video-on-demand services. HBO On Demand set the pace garnering strong interest among 35% of respondents. VOD content offerings from Discovery (33%), History Channel (32%), ESPN and Starz! (each with 28%) also struck chords with survey respondents.

Overall, awareness of VOD jumped to 70% in the current study, from 67% in the prior-year survey. Additionally, 67% and 89% of respondents said they were familiar with digital video recorders and high-definition television, respectively.

Results came from a syndicated telephone survey, conducted in April and May, of 1,000 cable subscribers who were asked about 39 emerging/digital networks (less than 35 million total subs), 21 mid-sized networks (35 million to 69 million) and 18 VOD offerings.


Among non-cable subscribers, the top-ranked major cable networks (70 million or more subs) that attracted strong interest were Discovery Channel with 62% of respondents’ votes, The History Channel (52%) and TLC (43%). Cable News Network, Comedy Central and Disney Channel were next all with 42%. Discovery has now earned top laurels in this measure for 13 consecutive years.

“Year after year, this study demonstrates the way in which Discovery Channel’s brand power and programming promise continue to reach beyond those who subscribe to our service,” said Discovery Networks U.S. president of affiliate sales and marketing Bill Goodwyn in a statement.

“We are thrilled at these results, and look forward to continuing our tradition of delivering content that adds real value and helps our affiliate partners attract those elusive cable-nevers.”

Among emerging/digital channels, Fox Movie Channel also took the top spot, with 59% of respondents expressing strong interest.

History Channel International (55%) and Science Channel (53%) were second and third, respectively. Relative to midsized networks, Lifetime Movie Network shared most-interest honors with Toon Disney, as each registered with 29% of respondents.

Here, Beta gleaned its results from 301 telephone interviews in April and May from a national sample of people who don’t subscribe to either cable or satellite in areas where the former distribution method is available.