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Study: ESPN Adds Value

ESPN is the top-ranked local ad-sales generator and is viewed as having the best value among basic-cable networks, according to a survey of cable managers and sales executives.

The results of the “Beta Research Cable Operator Study” were based on a study of 40 fully distributed basic-cable networks — defined as channels that pass 71 million homes or more.

When asked for their perceived value of networks, ESPN came out on top with a $1.00 valuation, followed by stablemate ESPN2 at 65 cents. These both represent increases from the same study last year: ESPN then was valued at 92 cents and ESPN 2, 59 cents.

The results of the study, conducted by Syosset, N.Y.-based Beta Research (www.nybeta.com), placed ESPN atop the perceived value ranking for a seventh consecutive year. The sports networks were followed by Disney Channel (59 cents); Fox News Channel (55 cents); CNN (54 cents); Discovery Channel and The Weather Channel (51 cents each); and MTV (50 cents). The top midsized networks — those with 35 million to 70 million subscribers — were National Geographic Channel (36 cents) and Toon Disney and Superstation WGN (34 cents apiece).

For its part, Discovery Networks U.S. was named by most operators when were asked which organization is the most helpful to operators in helping to sell high-speed Internet service, high-definition television and video-on-demand.

Disney/ESPN Media Networks was second in this ranking, followed by MTV Networks, Turner Entertainment Networks, Scripps Networks, NBC Universal Cable, Comcast Networks and Fox Cable Networks.

Discovery also has the best affiliate Web site, according to those polled.

The annual study was compiled from a telephone survey of 140 cable operators, conducted last October and November. For perceived value, operators were asked the value of a network to subscribers on an amount per-month, per-subscriber basis.

The interviews were conducted with marketing directors or general managers in systems ranging in size from 25,000 to more than 200,000 subscribers.

In a separate survey of 100 local sales executives, ESPN was named the top ad sales generator, cited by 85% of the respondents. USA Network was a distant second, trailed by TNT, Lifetime Television, Fox News and TBS.