Nat Geo, Discovery Top HD Wish List

National Geographic Channel and rival Discovery Channel are the networks that viewers want to see the most in HDTV, according to Beta Research Corp.’s latest brand study.

National Geographic was the top-ranked midsized network, with 48% of respondents saying they’d like to see the channel in HD. It was followed in the midsized group by Speed Channel (40%), ESPN Classic (35%) and Outdoor Life Network (35%).

Discovery Channel led the major cable networks, with 47% of respondents saying they would like to see the channel in HD. Discovery was followed by major networks ESPN (44%), The History Channel (44%), Sci Fi Channel (39%), ESPN2 (37%), Disney Channel (36%) and Food Network (34%).

ESPN, ESPN2 and Discovery Channel are the only networks from the study that have actually launched HDTV channels. National Geographic Channel shoots much of its original programming in high-definition, but the network hasn’t set a timeline for rolling out HD iterations of its nature programming.

When viewers were asked which networks they find the most entertaining, Comedy Central and Disney Channel led the major networks, with 79% of viewers ranking thusly. They were followed by Discovery (78%) and Animal Planet (74%).

National Geographic (76%) was the most entertaining midsized network, according to the survey, followed by Hallmark Channel (70%) and GSN (67%).

Niche cable-network viewers apparently pay more attention to commercials, as the survey found that Food viewers (25%) pay the most attention to the spots on the service. Food was followed by Scripps Networks sister service Home & Garden Television (22%); Discovery and Travel Channel (20% each); and ESPN and The History Channel (19% apiece).

Seventy-five percent of respondents selected The Weather Channel as the most valuable cable network, followed by History (73%); Discovery (68%); Food and HGTV (both with 59%); and Animal Planet (52%). National Geographic was the top-ranked midsized network, in terms of value.