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Cable Subscribers Say They 'Must Have' ESPN: Beta Study

The original ESPN logo on display in Digital Center 2 in Bristol, Connecticut
(Image credit: Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

At a time when the Walt Disney Co. is looking for ways to stream ESPN directly to consumers, a new survey reinforces the notion that cable subscribers feel they “must have” the sports network.

Beta Research said that 78% of network viewers called ESPN a “must-have network."

While linear ratings for kids channels have plummeted over the past few years, 73% of viewers called Cartoon Network and Disney Channel “must haves.” 

Also: Streaming's Share of TV Viewing Tops Cable for First Time: Nielsen

INSP was also labeled must have by 73% of network viewers.

Scoring nearly as high as must haves were Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, CNN, ID and ESPN2.

Beta also asked respondents which networks were most important to their enjoyment of cable, and 42% pf the adult cable and satellite subscribers surveyed named ESPN, Food Network and History Channel. 

Discovery Channel, Fox News, Weather Channel, National Geographic, FX, USA Networks, CNN, TNT and Comedy Central also were named by more than a third of respondents as helping them enjoy cable TV.

Among men, the favorite basic cable channels included ESPN, History and ESPN2, Fox News, CNN, Discovery Channel, Fox Sports 1, Comedy Central and National Geographic.

Among women, the top networks were Food Network, HGTV, CNN, Hallmark Channel, ID, TLC, Lifetime and History.

The Beta Research Multichannel Subscriber Study–Evaluation of Basic Cable Networks was conducted in June with a national sample of 1,200 cable and satellite subscribers.  ■

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.