April 10, 2006

Cable subscribers want less restriction in cable programming and more flexibility in accessing and paying for networks according to a new report from Arbitron Inc., "Arbitron Cable Television Study: Exploring the Consumer’s Relationship with Cable TV." The study examines what Americans want to see on cable networks, how they want to access the programming and the pricing structures that make the most sense to them.

What Cable Subscribers Want to See

Almost two-thirds of cable subscribers feel that basic cable programming should be unrestricted and nearly half feel that basic cable is rarely or almost never too objectionable. Sixty-two percent of cable subscribers agree that basic cable networks should be able to air whatever programming they please; if people don’t want to watch, they can change the channel. Seventy-seven percent of cable subscribers feel that premium networks should be able to air unrestricted programming.

Preferred Pricing Structure

Most cable subscribers would prefer to choose and pay for only the individual cable networks they are interested in viewing. Fifty-four percent of cable subscribers would prefer to only have access to the networks they view and only pay for those networks. Forty-two percent of cable subscribers would opt to continue buying channel packages as they currently do, and 4 percent are undecided. Currently, most cable companies offer packages of networks grouped together and available for one price for each group.

Video On Demand: With Commercials or Pay a Fee?

Forty-seven percent of those who have either watched or are interested in VOD services would prefer to get the programming for free in exchange for watching commercials that they cannot fast-forward through. Forty-two percent would rather pay a small fee, such as a dollar or two per show, in order to watch uninterrupted (commercial-free) programming.

"In an on-demand, multi-platform world, consumers increasingly want to experience media on their own terms and have a say in how programming is delivered," said Carol Edwards, Vice President of cable services, Arbitron. "As technology for media grows, consumers have more choices. This presents the cable industry with new opportunities to be creative in how they reach consumers."

How the Study Was Conducted

Arbitron, in conjunction with Edison Media Research, interviewed a total of 1,925 people to investigate Americans’ use of cable products and services. From January 13 to February 12, 2006, telephone interviews were conducted with respondents age 12 and older chosen at random from a national sample of Arbitron’s Fall 2005 survey diarykeepers. In certain geographic areas (representing 5% of the national population), a sample of Arbitron diarykeepers was not available for the survey, and a supplemental sample was interviewed through random digit dialing.

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