Emily Exton
December 07, 2010 at 05:06 PM EST

A recent study by Needham & Co. analyst Laura Martin shows the favorite TV stations among viewers opting to cut their cable cords. Three hundred participants were asked to list the channels that must be available online in order for them to turn off their TV subscription, and unsurprisingly, the four major networks came out on top, with CBS leading the way with 34 percent of the vote. ESPN came in a close fifth at 31 percent, and despite being in one-third of the households as the Big Four networks, HBO still managed to gain 11 percent of votes among participants.

But online, schmonline, PopWatchers. Which TV network could you simply not live without? For those of us lucky Cablevision subscribers in New York’s tri-state area, this hypothetical question hits a little too close to home. Multiple disputes in 2010 alone have led to the temporary absence of some of our favorite channels (Food Network, HGTV, ABC, and Fox) proving that Joni Mitchell was right: You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. Who knew I valued ABC so much until I missed the opening number of this year’s Oscars? While I watch more shows on the peacock network (Parenthood, Community, 30 Rock, and The Office, plus Football Night in America) and generally try to catch up online when I miss new episodes, that’s all to save face here in the office; deep down I’d be most concerned with the absence of Bravo (le gasp!). I’ve glimpsed at my future: A life without the delectable food porn of Top Chef, the atrocious wigs of the Real Housewives, and the backwards yet sometimes applicable advice of Patti Stanger on Millionaire Matchmaker, is not one I want to live.

What about you? What’s your desert island TV channel of choice?

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