Where's A Network's Consumer Loyalty -- And How Much Is It Worth?

by , Feb 20, 2013, 12:42 PM
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If you’re CBS, Discovery, A&E Networks or Scripps Networks, you are not getting what you should from your loyal consumers. The question is: ”How do you get it?”

For decades, media research analysts have put a high value on so-called "loyalty" to networks or to specific shows. For many, the key is looking at the delta in between "loyalty and "viewership," and perhaps adding in another factor -- the money networks get from distributors.

Disney's ESPN ranks high in loyalty, according to a recent report. It also gets high ratings. ESPN would then saythat its average $5 per month subscriber fee -- the highest among all networks, broadcast or cable -- is warranted.

But the formula isn't equal for every network, according to Lazard Capital Markets' senior entertainment/media analyst Barton Crocket, who says, "If the program fee pie were split according to loyalty share, Disney's fees could drop in half, while CBS' fees could grow nearly three-fold, and Discovery's could nearly double." A&E Networks, AMC and Scripps would also climb, he says.

For some time, the likes of CBS and Fox might have said that on a purely viewership level, they should get what ESPN gets -- $5 per sub a month -- not the 50 to 75 cents some analysts believe broadcast networks currently receive through their station groups.

But add the "loyalty" or "involvement" factor, and you'll get to another level. Other analysts might say this is difficult to quantify. Not only that but no industry standard exists for measuring loyalty. Are some viewers more "into" particular shows and networks? How does one pay more for those, and conversely, less for others?

To make matters more complicated, the social media factor may or may not also determine loyalty.  Does a particular episode get more positive comments than negative ones? Factor that in as well.

Social media can give you plenty of awareness. But are you getting viewers to tune in week in and week out – and, better yet, are they buying any advertised products?

3 comments on "Where's A Network's Consumer Loyalty -- And How Much Is It Worth? ".

  1. Michael Kaplan from Blue Sky Creative
    commented on: February 20, 2013 at 1:13 p.m.
    ESPN may have loyal viewers, but it's a relatively small subset of ALL viewers. HBO also has loyal viewers, but they're a relative small subset, too. So can someone explain why ESPN's premium content is forced on all cable viewers, and HBO is relegated to a premium tier? I'm tired of subsidizing professional athletes and pro sports just because I want to have some of the channels kept off the basic cable tier. Can't wait for a la carte pricing...
  2. Robynne Wildman from Standing With Agnes Nixon
    commented on: February 20, 2013 at 1:23 p.m.
    I'm with Michael...a la carte pricing...
  3. Bryan Durr from Boomer Life Media
    commented on: February 20, 2013 at 9:01 p.m.
    Right on Michael and Robynne. Everybody runs around screaming about the "Free Market" and level playing fields. So lets levels them. We are at a point in time that is way beyond the "Big Three". Many of these networks, including politically slanted news orgs have had time to prove themselves within the marketplace so let them do it through it a free market system. I think it's ridiculous that every $4.00 of my cable bill goes to ESPN when I only tune in for big events.

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