ABC, CBS, and Discovery The Most Popular “à la carte” Networks

ABC led the way, with more than 65% of people choosing it. CBS was right behind at 64%, with somewhat of a surprise in third place: Discovery at 62%. NBC and History rounded out the top five, with Fox, A&E, PBS, TNT and FX closing out the top 10.

While the 10 are networks you probably could have picked, the biggest surprise is who isn’t included. You’ll notice a certain “worldwide leader in sports” didn’t appear. They don’t appear, actually, for another 9 spots. ESPN barely cracked the top 20, coming in at 19 overall with 41% of people selecting it.

Does this mean anything for ESPN? Maybe, maybe not. There’s the chance this survey just happened to choose non-sports fans to answer, skewing the results a little. But when you consider that ESPN’s subscriber base has been falling for some time now, it begins to look like it’s not just this survey that has bad news for cable.

Following ESPN in this survey, Fox Sports 1 was the next most chosen sports network, coming in 33rd. NFL Network was 36th, NBCSN 38th, and MLB Network 56th. The Golf Channel came in at 66 and the Tennis Channel at 77.

But maybe the biggest takeaway from this survey was when Digitalsmiths asked people what they’d pay for their dream bundle. The answer? Less than $30. The average price people said they’d pay is $28.87, which stands out for two reasons: one, it’s much less than cable, and two, it’s actually pretty close to the entry level package for Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW.

While there’s no option yet to choose cable channels a la carte, it’s clear that streaming TV services are disputing the industry. People simply aren’t going to pay bloated bills for a bundle of channels they don’t even want any more.

And as more people lean how easy it is to cut cable, expect that trend to continue.

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Artie Beaty

Artie Beaty is a freelance writer from North Carolina who follows the world of streaming closely on a daily basis. Contact him at or on Twitter @AboutCharlotte.
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