Survey: Big Four Nets Still 'Must Keep TV'

The big four broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in that order -- remain the TV brands that consumers in an annual survey identify as the top "must keep" programmers, Solutions Research Group said.

In the eighth annual such survey, ESPN and Discovery follow in the fifth and sixth position, while HBO has moved up to No. 7, its best showing since the survey began (and one place higher than last year). History, PBS and AMC (which moved up seven spots from 2014) complete the top 10. TNT dropped out of the top 10 this year, slipping to 13 (see chart below).

Other highlights from the online survey of 1,400 U.S. consumers, conducted in April:

ABC, Fox and CBS are the top three brands for the 18-34 age demographic: ABC Family and AMC were new to the top 10 for this age group.

ESPN remains the top cable network among men ages 18-49, followed by HBO and Discovery.

ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and Discovery, in that order, remain the top five brands among women ages 25-54 stay, the same as last year. HGTV and ABC Family made the top 10 in this demo for the first time in the survey; History and Lifetime, which had fallen out of the top 10, made a comeback this year.

ABC and CBS were the top brands among African-Americans. Gains among this group were made by Discovery, PBS, CW, AMC, Comedy Central, Showtime and CNN versus last year.

ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and HBO were the top five brands among Hispanic Americans, followed by ESPN, PBS, Univision, ABC Family and AMC.

ABC, Fox, CBS, NBC, HBO and ESPN ranked as the top five brands among households earning $100,000 and up, followed by PBS, CNN, ABC Family and History.

For the first time in 2015, the survey asked consumers what they would do if their TV service provider stopped carrying their must-keep favorites: 84% said they would take some kind of action. It broke own to: 22% would switch providers, 11% would sign an online petition, 8% would complain on social media, 3% would complain to the Federal Communications Commission and 40% would complain to their TV providers, the survey firm said.

The top 10 channels in terms of fan loyalty as indicated by proportion who would drop their TV subscription in the event of non-carriage were: Telemundo, Univision, NBC Sports Network, Fox News Channel, Bravo, History, ESPN, AMC, ESPN2 and FOX Sports 1.

Survey boilerplate: "Must Keep TV" tracking is an independent syndicated brand tracking survey conducted by Solutions Research Group among a representative sample of American consumers, SRG said. The survey has been done every year since 2007, with questions fielded and presented in the same manner each year. The 2015 research is based on online interviews with 1,400 American consumers ages 12 and up conducted in April 2015. SRG said the sample captures and represents all major population segments. Respondents are shown a list of 74 leading network or cable brands and are asked to identify which ones would be on their "must keep TV" list if they had to choose a limited number. Sample design is balanced by geography, gender and ethnicity, including African- American and English-speaking Hispanics according to known universe parameters. 

Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.