‘Big Four’ U.S. Networks Rebound in Must-Keep TV Survey


TORONTO: ABC remains the top "must-keep TV" channel in America, according to a survey from the Solutions Research Group (SRG), followed very closely by CBS.

NBC beat out FOX to take the number three spot in the latest edition of the Must-Keep TV Report from SRG. The proportion of Americans who would include at least one of the "big four" networks on their ‘must-keep’ list if they had to keep a small bundle was up 3 points from a low of 75 percent last year to 78 percent this year. However, the research found that the Millennial generation continues to be less likely to want to include one of the big four in their top channels list—68 percent did so in 2014, the same level as 2013, although much lower than the peak of 81 percent in 2007.

ESPN again was the top cable brand that American TV viewers must keep, coming in at number five overall on the list. The rest of the top ten includes Discovery, HISTORY, HBO, TNT and PBS. FX had the most momentum, up six spots from number 20 to number 14. The CW also gained, up from 21 to 16. AMC moved one spot from last year, to 14, but has jumped 16 spots since 2012.

SRG said: "Our data…directionally suggests that TV brands that offer scripted dramas are seeing stronger consumer interest, particularly if they have strong archives of past episodes of their series available, or if past seasons are available on Netflix or on VOD for people to catch on and catch up with (not to mention availability via torrents). Before, people found character-intensive drama series more difficult to 'drop in' on. They couldn’t follow the story, didn’t know the characters and only had time to keep up with only a few first-run series on a regular basis. The combination of greater availability of archives of show content online, including Netflix, and more comfort with the intimacy and flexibility of small screen Internet enabled devices, make immersion easier.

"For brands that offer reality programming, social media has been a booster especially if they keep the shows relevant and part of the conversation using online video libraries, social media and re-packaging their stars and content on the web and social media to give fans edited highlights and a more intimate look at the reality characters they love."