Specialty TV Services: Discovery Channel comes atop: Canadians keen to watch, willing to pay: study

Janine Sumner is project director at Toronto-based ComQuest Research, the custom research division of BBM Bureau of Measurement.According to a recent survey by ComQuest Research, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommuni-cations Commission had Canadian interests in mind when selecting the winners in...

Janine Sumner is project director at Toronto-based ComQuest Research, the custom research division of BBM Bureau of Measurement.

According to a recent survey by ComQuest Research, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommuni-cations Commission had Canadian interests in mind when selecting the winners in the specialty service licensing race in early June.

ComQuest conducted a national telephone survey of 1,500 Canadians (results from a survey of this size are accurate within +2.5%, 19 times out of 20) shortly after crtc Chairman Keith Spicer’s announcement of the winners.

Interest level in these new specialty services is high. In fact, everyone interviewed had interest in watching at least one of the new choices.

After being given a brief description of each new service, respondents were asked if they would be interested in watching, if it were offered as part of their cable package.

The Discovery Channel, one of the 10 services licensed by the crtc on June 6, sparks the most interest, with 72% of all Canadians interested in its science and nature programming.

The Discovery Channel has its highest appeal in Ontario (80%) and b.c. (78%), and, nationally, attracts more men (76%) than women (69%.)

This service is of great interest to white-collar, higher-income and well-educated Canadians.

The only two pay-tv services in the package, The Classic Channel and moviemax attract more than half of all Canadians (53%), with the most interest in the 18-34 demo.

Following closely is YOU: Your Channel, with 49% of respondents showing interest in food, fitness and family programming.

The interest level for this specialty service is highest for the stay-at-home women and 18-44 year-olds.

Showcase (featuring Canadian and international drama), and Bravo! (featuring performing arts and cultural programming) scored 45% and 43%, respectively.

Although Showcase and Bravo! appeal to the well-educated and to women, the data suggest Bravo! will attract a higher percentage of 45-54 year-olds than Showcase, which is of interest to 18-34 year-olds.

Although only one-third (35%) of all Canadians were interested in Lifestyle Television, this service, which is geared towards a female audience, caught the interest of more than half the women interviewed (52%.)

The Country Network also appeals to about one-third of Canadians (33%), but generates interest specifically in the Atlantic provinces (50%) and the Prairies (40%.)

In Quebec, Arts et Divertissement, the French-language arts and drama service, and rdi, the French version of CBC Newsworld, attract almost half of Quebecers (47% and 48%, respectively.)

When respondents were asked to name the service they would watch most often, it was a landslide victory for The Discovery Channel, which won the support of 34% of viewers.

The Classic Channel and moviemax were a distant second, at 15%, followed by The Country Network (9%.)

YOU: Your Channel, Bravo!, rdi and Showcase are the favorites for 5% to 7% of Canadians.

About 6% of females in the survey mention Lifestyle Television (female programming) as the service they would watch most often.

In Quebec, The Discovery Channel is also the most popular choice (24%), although by a smaller margin.

The second and third choices in Quebec are rdi (17%) and Arts et Divertisseement (7%.)

The next question is, will the cable subscriber pay for these services?

According to the ComQuest survey, more than half (55%) of all Canadians currently getting cable tv say they would be likely to pay the estimated $3 a month extra if the new specialty services were offered to them as part of their current cable tv package.

Close to 40% of those interested said they would be ‘very likely’ to add the new services for this price.

There is little variation by region.

However, Canadians in b.c. and the Atlantic provinces are more likely to add these extra services, with close to 60% of cable subscribers saying they would be ‘somewhat’ or ‘very likely’ to pay the additional $3 a month.

Some Canadians may, in fact, watch more tv as a result of being offered these new specialty services.

According to the survey, 13% of all Canadians say they will watch more tv if these new services were available.

Advertisers will be happy because the increase in tv viewing is likely to be in the 18-44 demographic; 58% of the people who said they would watch more are in this age group.

While only 5% of the total sample was ethnic (home language other than English or French), one in five say they would watch more tv when these new services become available.

Although the ultimate proof of Canadians’ interest in these specialty services will be the willingness of cable subscribers to pay, the results of this survey suggest Canadians are interested in watchin, and would feel comfortable paying for these additional services.

Time will tell.