Research: ABC tops ‘Must Keep’ TV brands

ABC is back on top as the leading ‘must keep’ TV brand in the US and even potential cord-cutters have their list of networks and cable channels they can’t do without, according to the latest edition of  Solutions Research Group’s ‘Must Keep TV’ report.

The fourth edition of the independent tracking survey is based on interviews with 1,400 American consumers 12+ in early March 2011. It reveals what TV brands consumers just must have, the ones which are gaining in popularity and others that are slipping.

ABC was identified as the top ‘must-keep’ TV brand (by 47 per cent of all respondents interviewed), narrowly beating CBS, FOX, and NBC.

However, while the four big broadcast networks remain the most important TV brands for viewers, the number of Americans who include at least one in their set of ‘must keep’ channels is down to 77 per cent in 2011 from 83 per cent in 2007. The percentage including at least two networks is now 51 per cent, down 9 points from its benchmark level of 60 per cent in 2007. Eighty-four per cent of 50+ Americans include at least one network as part of their essential channels, compared to only 68 per cent of those 20 to 29.

On the cable side, ESPN is the top cable brand again this year, following the four major networks. Discovery, Food, History, USA and TNT round out the 2011 Top 10.

For the first time since 2007, HBO failed to make the top 10 most powerful TV brands in the US (now ranked #13), while TNT jumped into the top 10, up two spots from #12 in 2009. Besides TNT, the top movers were: Disney, Lifetime and National Geographic.

Drilling down into demographic splits, ABC stayed #1 among 18-49 year-olds. The top five cable nets in the 18-49 in 2011 were: ESPN, Discovery, Food, History and Comedy Central. CNN was the top news ‘must keep’ brand coming in at #22 for 18 to 49s versus Fox News at #32.

Driven by the popularity of  Jerseu Shore, MTV showed gains across the board, rising 10 spots to #23 among 18 to 49 year-olds and to #11 for the 18 to 34 crowd. Food Network also jumped into the top 10 in the 18 to34 age category for the first time since 2007.

When it comes to those who identify themselves as potential cord-cutters (those who reported seriously considering dropping their TV subscription sometime over the past six months), even they have TV brands they can’t live without. ABC was the top network potential cord-cutters said they have to keep followed by CBS, FOX and NBC. Rounding out the top 10 among this group were: Discovery, History, ESPN, A&E, Food and Comedy Central.

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