US TV audiences ‘need’ top TV networks

The big four networks plus ESPN, Discovery, History, USA, Food Network and TNT are the top ten TV brands American consumers can’t do without, according to the latest edition of the “Must Keep TV” report from Solutions Research Group (SRG).

ABC was identified as the top “must-keep” TV brand in by 51 per cent of all respondents overall, narrowly beating CBS, FOX, and NBC. This is the fourth time ABC topped the ‘must keep TV’ poll out of five waves of research since 2007. Among men, CBS took the top spot, while ABC led in most key female demographics and took the overall top spot.

Among other highlights of the 2012 research:
· AMC is the top story of the year. Powered by The Walking Dead and Mad Men, AMC is now in the #30 spot among Adults 18-49, up from #51 last year. In the younger 18-34 demographic, it leaped into the #19 position, up a record 34 spots from last year.
· PBS is also one of the big stories of this year, leaping 7 spots to #12 “must keep TV” brand in America overall, based on the huge popularity of the Downton Abbey franchise.
· As online alternatives pick up momentum, TV viewers appear to be slowly abandoning premium movie channels like Starz, Movie Channel and Cinemax. These three brands declined in rankings in all demos. In the 18-49 demo: Starz declined from #34 to #41 while Cinemax dropped from #46 to #53.
· Moving in the wrong direction this year: Nickelodeon is down five spots to #25 and Fox News is down 7 spots to #30.  HBO remained outside of the top 10 for the second year in a row although it improves its standing from to #11 since 2011 due to strong momentum among men 25-54.
· The research found that the big four networks’ brand equity stabilised despite proliferation of alternatives. The proportion of Americans who would include at least one of the big four networks in their top channels was 77 per cent in 2012, exactly the same proportion as it was last year. The decline in the 2007-2009 period from a peak of 83 per cent appears to have stabilized despite increased competition.

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