The report from Beta Research, based on a survey of 350 advertiser and agency executives, found that 69 percent gave ABC a strong grade for brand value. CBS finished second with 62 percent, followed by Fox with 56 percent and NBC with 52 percent.
NBC posted the high mark just a year ago, with ABC third. This year, ABC also led the pack--with 63 percent of executives saying it had the most appealing audience demos, followed by Fox (57 percent), CBS (46 percent, and NBC (45 percent).
The report is another example of ABC's resurgence in the post-"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" era. ABC, which led broadcasters in CPM increases in the 2005 upfront, is the ratings frontrunner this season among 18- to-49-year-olds, and the only network with a year-to-year increase in the demo.
The survey also attempted to evaluate Madison Avenue's perceptions of the networks' annual upfront presentations. Among a subset of 300 agency executives--buyers, planners, and other decision-makers--ABC scored the highest on the quality of its 2005 upfront presentation. CBS and Fox tied for second, with NBC third. The survey, however, was conducted last fall--several months after the May upfronts.
Among fully distributed basic cable networks, ESPN garnered the top score on brand image, with 78 percent of executives giving it a strong grade. The Discovery Channel came in second with 76 percent, followed by the Food Network (68 percent), Comedy Central (64 percent), HGTV (63 percent), the History Channel (62 percent), and MTV (59 percent). The Food Network and Comedy Central were the only ones among the leaders with an increase in prime-time viewing last year.
As the upfront season approaches, the report offered good news for MTV Networks, as its Comedy Central and MTV scored the top marks for the quality of their upfront presentations.