ABC tops the list of “must-have” channels for a pay TV service, with 68.4% of 2,000 US broadband households surveyed by The Diffusion Group (TDG) indicating the broadcast network to be essential to any pay TV service, according to data publicly released in September by TDG. The other big broadcast networks followed, with NBC in second (66.6%), ahead of CBS (64.2%) and FOX (60.9%).
These rankings differ from a list of top network brands released in June 2012. That study found CBS to be recognized by consumers as the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend TV Network Brand of the Year. CBS received an EquiTrend rating of 68.27, ahead of PBS (67.06), ABC (66.66), and NBC (66.54), and above the category average of 64.83. The Harris poll analyzes the responses of more than 38,500 on key measures of brand health, including how well the public knows a brand, how positively they think of it, and their consideration to do business with or donate to it.
Discovery Channel Leads Among Cable Channels
Data from TBG’s “Video Behavior in the Age of Quantum Media” indicates that among the 6 cable channels making the top 10 pay TV “must-haves” list, Discovery Channel led in the 5th spot, at 47.3% of respondents, followed by The History Channel (45.7%) and HBO (41%). Rounding out the top 10 are ESPN (37.5%), Syfy (35.7%), and Comedy Central (35.1%).
The History Channel (#1) and Discovery Channel (#2) also led the topical interest category in the Harris EquiTrend rankings, while HBO remained the king of the pay cable network brand category for the 8th year running.
Some “Must-Have” Channels Shift in Popularity
Further details from the TBG report indicate that some channels have shifted in popularity over the past year. While ABC continues to top the list, it fell 6.1% points from last year, when 74.4% of respondents said it was essential for a pay TV subscription. Similarly, CBS dropped 7.7% points from 2011, when 71.9% of respondents chose it as a “must-have”, and when it occupied the 2nd spot ahead of NBC.
By contrast, HBO saw a 5.2% point increase, moving it from the 8th spot to 7th (overtaking ESPN), while Syfy enjoyed a 4.9% point increase, moving it into the top 10.
Gap Emerges Between Pay TV Satisfaction and Value Perception
Separate data from TBG’s report suggests that while most pay TV subscribers are satisfied with the quality of their service, they don’t necessarily believe they are getting their money’s worth. The report finds that while 76% of pay-TV subscribers report being highly satisfied with the quality of their pay-TV service (top-2 box score on a 7-point scale of satisfaction), only 54.7% believe that they are deriving a very positive (top-2 box score) value from their service – that is, that they are getting their money’s worth given what they are spending.
Similarly, while only 10.4% are highly dissatisfied with their service’s quality (bottom-2 box score), a much higher 21.9% are very negative (bottom-2 box score) about the value of their service. TBG suggests that these underlying currents may provide insights into cord-cutting and cord-shaving behavior. Indeed, the value gap is notable, given multiple pieces of research suggesting that cost savings are a prime motivator for cord cutting and shaving.
Is is worth noting that despite the high levels of satisfaction seen by TBG, a June report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) found customer satisfaction levels with pay TV providers to be relatively low.
About the Data: The TBG data is based on a survey of 2,000 US broadband households, conducted in Q3 2012.