NEW YORK — Rupert Murdoch’s Fox brand, linked to movies produced by 20th Century Fox over the last 75 years, has propelled the Fox Movie Channel (FMC) to the head of the pack among emerging cable networks in the annual Beta Research study, for the third year in a row.
The study, based on telephone Q&As with 1,000 cable subscribers, showed that more people said they were “very interested” in signing up for FMC than for any other limited-circulation digital network.
FMC’s 58% approval rating ended up a staggering 12% higher than the second-place finisher, Discovery Science, at 46%.
But because subscribers are not gobbling up digital boxes as fast as cable operators had predicted, FMC has not succeeded in parlaying the Beta results into any major spikes in circulation; it reaches fewer than 20 million households.
For the first time, Beta surveyed the video-on-demand arena, singling out HBO on Demand, with 34%, as the No. 1 network chosen by survey respondents, exhibiting a solid lead over second-place History on Demand, with 30%.
Another Fox-owned network, the National Geographic Channel, with 51%, took the honors in the category of midsized networks, edging out the WGN Superstation, which averaged 50%.
Unlike FMC, the Beta survey exactly mirrors Fox’s success in the marketplace with National Geo, which scarfed up a humongous 14.3 million subscribers in the last year, faster growth by far than any other cable network in the U.S. National Geo’s total is 43.6 million households.
The Lifetime Movie Network added 11.48 million subscribers in the last year, making it the second fastest-growing channel. LMN also finished third among midsized networks in the Beta report, at 47%.
WGN may be in second place among the Beta respondents, but its Nielsen ratings fell by 7% in primetime among total persons last year, and have fallen even more drastically this year, by 23% in the first quarter and by 25% in the second quarter.
Behind FMC and Discovery Science in the emerging networks, according to Beta, are DIY: Do-It-Yourself Network (43%), Biography Channel (41%), History Intl. (40%) and an obscure Fort Worth, Texas-based channel called FamilyNet.