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ESPN Most Valued Network Among Viewers, Per Beta Research

SYOSSET, N.Y.—ESPN was a fixture in the top spots of Beta Research’s studies looking at what cable networks U.S. viewers valued the most. In its 2019 edition of the “Cable Subscriber Study—Evaluation of Basic Cable Networks,” the sports network was never worse than second in any finding.

Beta Research conducted its survey with a national sample of 1,400 cable subscribers age 18 and older, using three questions to measure 45 basic cable networks.

The first question asked what cable networks men and women consider “must haves,” meaning they scored a four or five on a scale of one to five. Among men, ESPN came out on top with 47% of respondents rating it a must have; for women, their top must-have station was the Food Network (36%). Only three cable networks ranked in the top seven for both genders: Discovery Channel, Weather Channel and FX.

Respondents were also tasked with providing an average perceived value for the networks. ESPN was again at the top, however it tied with Nick Jr., with viewers giving an average value of $1.74. Sports and kids programs were among the most popular in this section, with Disney, Cartoon Network, ESPN2 and Fox Sports 1 also making the top 10. ID, Food Network, Comedy Central and National Geographic rounded out the top networks.

The lone instance where ESPN was not the top station in a survey was when it came to determining how many people would switch cable providers if a basic cable network was dropped from the service. Discovery came out ahead with 19%; ESPN and History Channel followed with 18% each.

Beta Research conducted the study in June of 2019.