Television Program Preferences 
in Cable Households

In a previous note, we reported that the principal reason that people has cable television service was to be able to receive more channels.  Furthermore, to a lesser degree, they want to be able to get information and entertainment programs from foreign countries that are not usually available on domestic broadcast channels.

In the case of Argentina, the typical cable television systems carries about 75 channels carrying various types of programming.  Here, we ask the question: What television program types do people in cable households watch more than those in non-cable households?  Such television program types are likely to meet two conditions --- (1) they are usually available only (or more often) on cable; and (2) they are preferred by those persons in cable households.

We will report some data taken from the TGI Argentina study.  This is a consumer survey of 6,351 persons between the ages of 12 and 75 in Argentina conducted by IBOPE Argentina during 1999.  In this survey, people are shown a list of television program types and asked about their frequency of viewing to each.  In the table below, we show these television program types sorted by descending order of the index statistic.  The index is calculated as 100 times the percent of people in cable households who watched the television program type frequently, divided by the percent of people in all households who watched the television program type frequently.  An index of 100 means that the cable people watch exactly as much as all households.  An index greater than 100 means that the cable people watch more than all households.  An index less than 100 means that the cable people watch less than all households.

Television Program Type Indices

Television program type Index Comment
Erotica 120 Soft-core pornography is not available on broadcast television at all.  Even on cable television, these are encrypted channels (mainly, Venus and Playboy TV) that requires a special decoder to view.
Science / technology 115 Most of these types of programs are found on the documentary channels, and sometimes on news channels
Home / Decoration 114 Casa Club TV and Utilísima Satelital are dedicated completely to home issues, but these programs can also be regularly seen on Discovery Channel, Canal de la Mujer, Gems TV, Mujer 24 Horas and Siempre Mujer
Travel / tourism 113 There is a specialized cable channel just for travel information --- People + Arts / Travel Channel
Home shopping 113 This is served by the home shopping channel Clasiclips, where people can order merchandise by telephone.
Documentaries 112 This category is dominated by Discovery Channel and its affiliates Animal Planet and People + Arts / Travel Channel, but there are also competitors such as Infinito, Mundo Olé and TV Quality
Music Videos 111 Record companies will provide music videos to anyone who can help their record sales.  So the raw programming materials for music television channels are cheap, which permits multiple entries in this field --- MTV Latino, HTV, MuchMusic, Music 21, Telemúsica, TeleHit, Ritmo Son and Crónica Musical.  There are also specialized music channels such as Sólo Tango.
Live sports 109 The television rights for certain national soccer games belong to T y C (Torneos y Competencias), which offers them via an encoded scheme.  Live sports coverage is also offered by ESPN International and Fox Sports Latin America.
Fashion & style 108 There is a Fashion Network, but fashion programs can also be found on lifestyle networks such as MTV Latino as well as the news channels
Economy / finance 108 The Buenos Aires stock market is covered by Bursatil, while Bloomberg Information Television provides global market coverage
Animation / cartoons 108 There are international programmers Cartoon Network, Discovery Kids, Fox Kids, Nickelodeon and national channels such as Big, Cablín and Magic Kids.  These channels are immensely popular with children, since the broadcast channels program for them only a small number of hours per day.
Sports commentary 108 América Sports, CV Sports, ESPN Sur, T y C (Torneos y Competencias) are national sports channels and ESPN International and Fox Sports Latin America are international sports channels.
Health / medicine 108 There is a specialized Cable Salud, but such programs can also be found on Discovery Channel and others
Cooking / culinary arts 107 Cooking programs can be found on Casa Club TV and Discovery Channel
Educational programs 107 There are specialized channels such as Cable Saber and Educable, but also on Discovery Kids.
International news 106 There are international news channels Canal Sur, CBS Telenoticias, CNN Internacional, CNN en Español and ECO.  There are also international programs that carry news in foreign languages: BBC World Americas (United Kingdom), Deutsche Welle (Germany), RAI Américas (Italy), TV5 (France), TV Chile (Chile), TV Española (Spain) and WorldNet (USA).  E!  specializes in entertainment news.
Games and contests 105 There are no channels specifically for games and contests.
Comedy 104 There is a comedy channel Júpiter Comic, but comedy programs can also be found elsewhere on entertainment and movie channels
Science fiction 104 There is no pure science fiction channel as such, but these programs can be found on the entertainment channels.  Of special note is Sábados de Sci Fi, which runs on the USA Network on Saturdays.
Movies 104 There are the international movie channels Cinecanal, The Film Zone, Movie City, TNT, Cinemax and HBO OLE, and local movie channels 365 Canal de Cine, Cine Planeta, etc.  There are also specialty movie channels such as Volver for nostalgic old movies.
Politics 103 There is specialty channel Politica y Economía, but political programs can be found on the local news channels and, more often, on the broadcast television channels.  This is likely to be a case in which the cable people are more likely to be interested in politics.
International series 103 Action, drama and comedy series, primarily from the USA, can be seen on AXN , Canal Fox, I-SAT, Sony Entertainment Television, SPACE, USA Network, Warner Channel and Uniseries
Award shows 102 There are not enough awards to go around for a specialty channel, so this refers to special events that may appear on broadcast and/or cable channels.
Weather report / information 102 There is a specialty channel The Weather Channel, but weather reports will also be found on the news channels.
National news 102 There is some coverage by the international news channels, but there is good coverage from the Argentine news channels Crónica TV, CVN, Red de Noticias and TN (Todo Noticias)
Talk shows 101 There is no specialty talk channel.  Such programs are more likely to be found on the broadcast television channels.
Local news 101 There is some coverage by the international news channels, but there is good coverage from the Buenos Aires news channels Crónica TV, CVN, Red de Noticias, TN (Todo Noticias) and 26 TV.
National series 101 There is not enough national programming material to support a channel, or even any consistent program line-up.
Theater / opera / musical drama 101 There are several high-brow cultural channels such as Canal á, Bravo and Film & Arts.
Religious programs 101 Religious channels such as EWTN do not have large circulation or audiences.
International novelas   98 This is almost the exclusive domain of the broadcast television channels as well, with some delayed runs on Canal de las Estrellas
National novelas   96 This is almost the exclusive domain of the broadcast television channels, with some re-runs appearing on Gems TV and others.

(source: TGI Argentina, IBOPE Argentina)

The broadcast spectrum can carry only a small number of channels.  The commercial broadcasters are in the profit-making business, and will therefore program to maximize the audience within the broadcast day.  Many of them will not begin broadcasting until the early afternoon, as it is unprofitable to program for a small potential audience in the morning.  During the afternoon, the programs are targeted towards children (e.g. cartoons) and housewives (e.g. telenovelas).  During the evening prime time, the programs are the big-budget fare that attract the most number of people --- telenovelas, recent movies, popular American series and so on.  In the late evening, there are news and commentaries.  On the weekend, sports programs and movies are the most typical offerings.  There is in fact a great deal of similarity in the types of programs offered by the commercial broadcasters during various times of the day.

It is simple physics that a single channel cannot simulcast multiple programs.  If the commercial broadcasters choose the programs that they believe will maximize their audiences (and hence revenues), there is room left for various cable channels to fill in the unmet niche demands.  Of these niches, the most significant ones are

(posted by Roland Soong on 3/5/00)

Related Zona Latina pages

(Return to Zona Latina's Home Page)