History Channel is the most coveted cable network, survey says

History Channel is home to popular series "Pawn Stars." Image: History Channel

Investor research firm MoffettNathanson continues to reveal results of a proprietary survey, revealing some surprising outcomes.

Among the notable shockers from the Altman Vilandre & Company polling of 5,000 U.S. media consumers: History Channel was listed as the top “must-have” cable network. Forty-four percent of respondents listed the channel as essential to their multichannel bundle, just behind the Big Four broadcast networks.

Discovery Channel (41 percent), Food Network (37 percent) and The Weather Channel (37 percent trailed closely behind, ahead of USA and TNT (both tag 36 percent). Only 34 percent listed ESPN, the most expensive channel in the bundle. 

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The data jibes with a similar study released in July by Solutions Research Group. 

The results become surprising when you compare per-subscriber costs for these channels. According to SNL Kagan data, ESPN has an average per-subscriber cost of $6.61 compared to just 28 cents for History Channel. 

For its part, MoffettNathanson is publishing the data in the context of what networks will live — and which will fall by the wayside — in a new era of skinnier programming bundles. 

The data also comes as CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla tweeted a chart from Deutsche Bank Wednesday, revealing which cable channels have lost the most subscribers from 2011-2015. Not surprisingly, ESPN — the most expensive channel — has lost nearly 8 million subs. 

The subscriber-loss leader, however, is The Weather Channel, at nearly 12 million subs. Despite its popularity in the Altman Vilandre survey, Weather has faced distribution challenges, with operators like FiOS dropping the network. 

For more:
- read this MoffettNathanson report (sub. req.)

Related articles:
HBO and Discovery surpass ESPN as more 'must keep' channel to consumers, research group finds
Programmers set to trim down network portfolios in skinny bundle era

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