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ABC tops “must-have” channel rankings in US

The so-called “Big Four” broadcasters in the US – ABC, NBC, CBC and Fox – retained their iron grip on the nation’s TV remotes over the last 12 months, giving operators little wiggle room for negotiating better carriage deals.

Research by The Diffusion Group (TDG) indicates that the top ten “must-have” channels have changed little in the past year, with just a few changing places here and there. To produce the latest rankings, consumers were asked to select ten channels from a list of 35 that they considered essential to a pay-TV service.

Top 10 'must-have' channels

Source: The Diffusion Group

Six cable channels found their way into 2012′s top ten list, including Discovery Channel (47%), The History Channel (46%), HBO (41%), ESPN (38%), SyFy (36%), and Comedy Central (35%). SyFy was the only new entrant in 2012′s top ten list, replacing Scripps’ Food Network, which dropped to twelfth.

There continues to be widespread debate over the questionable value of including ESPN in an entry-level package, according to TDG, due to the cost involved.

“Operators spend US$ 5 per subscriber for ESPN – making it the most expensive cable channel and leading many to question whether it must be part of even entry-level packages,” said Michael Greeson, TDG Founding Partner and Director of Research. “Data suggests that the total addressable audience for a pay-TV package without ESPN would be at least 40% less than one that included ESPN.”

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