Encore touts numbers from Nielsen survey

Starz shines finishing ahead of pay TV rivals

NEW YORK — John Malone’s Encore/Starz pay TV multiplexes, traditionally No. 3 on the premium totem pole behind those of HBO and Showtime, pulled some surprisingly strong Nielsen ratings among DirecTV subscribers in an October 1997 survey released March 20.

“The results show that movies are still the best way to generate an audience,” says John Sie, chairman and CEO of the Encore Media Group.

In Encore’s analysis of the Nielsen data, Starz 1 and 2 combined finished ahead of their pay-network rivals, scoring an average primetime rating of 6.9 (for the period Oct. 11 through Nov. 7, 1997) in the 35% of DirecTV households that subscribe to Starz.

Cinemax came in second, averaging a 3.2 Nielsen rating among the 41% of DirecTV households that take it. HBO came in third, with a 2.8 average rating in 54% of the DirecTV universe. HBO2, which also reaches 54% of DirecTV dish owners, also averaged a 2.8 rating. Sie says Nielsen broke out the HBO numbers but combined the Starz 1 and 2 ratings. Even if researchers add the two separate HBO ratings together, the 5.6 rating still falls below Starz 1 and 2’s combined 6.9, Sie added.

Showtime averaged a 2.3 rating in the 30% of the DirecTV universe that gets the network.

In the multiplex category, the Starz/Encore 12-channel package (which includes theme networks like Westerns, action dramas and love stories) averaged a 12.5 rating.

The seven-screen HBO multiplex averaged a 6.4 rating, the three Cinemax channels a 4.4, the four Showtime networks a 3.6 and the two TMCs a 0.7.

Nielsen culled the data from phone calls throughout the month to 11,000 homes with satellite dishes, of which 3,690 were DirecTV households.

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