Cable Subscribers Call ESPN a Must-Have in Beta Research Study

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

When Charter Communications took on The Walt Disney Co. it was risking a huge backlash from its cable TV customers, according to a new report from Beta Research. That’s because Beta’s survey found that three of the networks blacked out in the three-week dispute — ESPN, ESPN2 and Disney Channel — were the three networks most viewers described as a must-have channel.

Charter said it was prepared to walk away from ESPN and the other Disney cable channels, but subscribers don’t seem to feel the same way.

Beta regularly surveys cable subscribers about what channels they must have. In the latest survey conducted in June, ESPN was mentioned by 74% of viewers, ESPN2 was mentioned by 67% of subscribers and Disney Channel was mentioned by 66% of those responding.

Among the other networks cited by subscribers as “must-have” included Discovery Channel, ID, Nickelodeon, National Geographic, History, Weather Channel and Food Network.

To viewers, ESPN’s value was $2.45 a month, higher than any other channel. Disney gets more than that from cable operators for ESPN. ESPN was followed by Disney Channel at $2.15 a month and ESPN2 at $2.15 a month.

Also Read: Disney and Charter Patch Up ‘Broken’ Pay TV Model, Sign Distribution Agreement

In the survey, 48% of adult respondents said that ESPN was important to their enjoyment of cable, more than any other channel.

ESPN also scored high when people were asked about their five favorite cable networks. ESPN was first among men, named by 37%. It was also mentioned by 15% of women, tying it for sixth on the list.

The other favorite networks named by men were History, Discovery, Comedy Central and ESPN2.

Women’s top favorites were Food Network, ID, HGTV, Lifetime and Disney Channel.

Beta Research spoke to 1,500 cable and satellite subscribers aged 18 and up in June in preparing its report, which covered 42 basic cable networks.

Jon Lafayette

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.