EXCLUSIVE: Fox International Channels has mixed news for pay TV network execs who wonder whether their channel names have any meaning overseas, especially in fast-growing developing countries. Just a handful of networks resonated with the 14,000 respondents to a recent online survey conducted by Millward Brown Optimor. The study included 12 markets: Mexico, Brazil, Portugal, UK, Italy, Spain, Poland, India, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia. Discovery was the best-known channel, with 85% of the respondents saying that they are familiar with it. As part of the most globally focused Big Media company News Corp, it’s not surprising that Fox-related services did especially well in the study. It has five of the seven most recognized channels with National Geographic (82%), Fox (61%), Foxlife (44%), FX (33%) and Star (26%). (The list also includes Sony’s AXN, familiar to 52% of respondents.) But the vast majority of channels are familiar to less than one in five people surveyed.

The data is important for companies as they decide how much to market themselves vs their content to existing and potential pay TV customers. Content is still the big draw, but channel names still carry a lot of weight among viewers interested in news and current events, documentaries, sports, and theatrical movies. “The role of strong channel brands is more significant than many in the television business believe,” says MBO Managing Director Nick Cooper. The study also found that viewers in fast-growing countries including Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia and Mexico typically were most interested in non-local content. But one exception is India, where locally produced programming is most popular. The study also found that 65% of Pay TV customers said they’re satisfied with their experience vs. 39% for those who just have free TV.