HBO and Discovery surpass ESPN as more 'must keep' channel to consumers, research group finds

HBO and Discovery have surpassed ESPN in an annual ranking of the most "essential" TV brands to U.S. consumers, according to Solutions Research Group.

SRG's annual "Must Keep TV" rankings have gained clout in the skinny bundle era, with programmers looking to show their networks can't be left out of smaller bundles of channels.

Just like last year's survey, consumers said the Big Four broadcast networks were most important to them, with ABC leading the group, followed by CBS, NBC and Fox.

ESPN, which placed fifth in 2015, ranked seventh on the list this year, surpassed by HBO and Discovery.

Brands also climbing include A&E (from 12th to eighth place) and CNN (from 22nd to 13th place). Decliners also include AMC (10th to 12th place) and PBS (ninth to 11th place).

Notable was the poor showing by the networks of embattled Viacom, none of which cracked the top 20 for the first time since 2007. Of the eight Viacom brands tracked, Comedy Central (No. 25) ranked the highest. 

To come up with its data, SRG polled 1,400 consumers online in April. Respondents were asked to rank 73 TV programming brands.

For more:
- read this Standard Research Group report

Related articles:
ESPN is still the most 'valuable' channel to pay-TV operators, survey finds
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