Nielsen report finds that regional sports networks are popular among sport fans – Los Angeles Times

Cable TV channels that televise games of local professional sports teams are highly popular among sports fans, a Nielsen report commissioned by Fox Sports has found.

The study, released Wednesday, revealed that in certain markets, including Detroit and St. Louis, fans ranked the local regional sports channel as more essential than ESPN, Discovery, History or HBO. The findings were derived from a survey of 1,500 pay-TV subscribers who identified themselves as sports fans, which means the study was not necessarily representative of the broader base of pay-TV subscribers.

The “passion index” study comes as Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and owners of other regional sports channels brace for pitched battles with pay-TV operators over the high cost of these channels.

“We think these channels are very valuable for what they deliver,” said Jeff Krolik, president of Fox Sports Regional Networks. “The message to us was that many viewers regard these regional sports networks as the ‘fifth network’” in terms of popularity. 

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