Discovery Channel is cord-cutters' favorite cable network, according to survey

Maybe it's because Shark Week is right around the corner, but Discovery Channel could be seeing blood in the OTT water if a recent survey is any indication about the network's popularity with non-pay-TV subscribers.

According to Beta Research, cord cutters ranked Discovery Channel as the best basic cable network and the one with the highest interest among people who don't pay for TV. Comedy Central, AMC, FX, the National Geographic Channel and A&E rounded out the top five in the category behind Discovery.

Last year, Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav said the company could potentially offer a direct-to-consumer OTT product in the U.S., like it currently does in Europe.

But Discovery is among the pay-TV companies concerned that, if the current trend toward skinny bundles persisted, it could jeopardize the original content created by Discovery and other networks. At last year's IBC annual event, Discovery Communications CTO John Honeycutt warned that there is still value in the bundle, while Andrew Ferrone, VP of pay TV for Roku, said a move toward more a la carte pricing could be "risky for content creators."

But for now, Discovery appears to have enough interesting content to put it atop at least one survey about the most desired networks.

Beta Research surveyed 2,397 multichannel service subscribers and 449 non-subscribers through April-May 2016 and asked them to rate their interest in networks on a one to five scale, with one being "not at all interested" and five being "very interested."

Other findings included Sony Movie Channel being ranked as the favorite "emerging" network among cord cutters and adults overall.

The survey also covered viewing habits and found that, among total adults, 50 percent had high interest in viewing TV on a smartphone or tablet, with 45 percent reporting they had done so in the past 30 days (a figure up from 37 percent in 2015).

The survey also found the 32 percent of cable subscribers were extremely or very interested in dropping cable TV and watching only Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime on their smartphones or tablets.

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