Pay-TV Services Still Lag in Customer Satisfaction

June 20, 2019

Video streaming continues to gain a competitive edge on traditional TV. Earlier this year, a study found that more US consumers subscribe to a video streaming service than to pay-TV. Adding fuel to the fire, now a new report [download page] from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) once again reveals that customer satisfaction is higher with video streaming services than with subscription TV services.

The ACSI’s Telecommunications Report 2018-2019 measures customer satisfaction with a variety of service providers on a 100-point scale.

Subscription TV services – such as AT&T U-verse, Verizon Fios, and Comcast Xfinity – emerge with an aggregate customer satisfaction score of just 62, which is unchanged from last year. That aggregate rating is so low that it sits, alongside Internet Service Providers (many of the same companies), at the bottom of the 46 industries measured.

Unfortunately for subscription TV providers, low customer satisfaction scores have become almost the norm and pay-TV services have a lower satisfaction rating in almost every feature category than streaming services.

The latest ACSI report finds that pay-TV providers struggle the most with their ability to keep service interruptions to and outages to a minimum (index score of 72) and with their call centers (62).

Streaming services, on the other hand, aren’t experiencing the same level of dissatisfaction. Video streaming services had an aggregate customer satisfaction rating of 76 this year (up a point from 75 in 2018). Although streaming video customer satisfaction rating is quite a bit higher than pay-TV providers, it still approaches the bottom third of all industries in satisfaction.

Netflix, named the most indispensable TV programming brand this year, leads the way in streaming satisfaction ratings, per the study, with a score of 79. It is closely followed by Sony PlayStation Vue (78) and Microsoft Store (77).

To put streaming video services’ dominance over pay-TV providers in perspective, the lowest-rated streaming service (Sony Crackle – 68) was, once again this year, the only one to have a satisfaction score lower than the highest-scoring pay-TV provider (AT&T U-Verse – 70).

Streaming service subscribers are most satisfied with the quality of mobile apps (84), the ease of understanding their bill (82) and the reliability of mobile apps (82) per the report. On the other end of the spectrum, they are least satisfied with the availability of current season’s TV shows (71) and availability of new movie titles (69).

Other Study Highlights

  • Video-on-demand services also suffered from low customer satisfaction rates, with a composite score of 67. Verizon Fios (72) led among providers, while Charter Spectrum lagged (64) in this group.
  • Among internet service providers, Verizon Fios was the winner in customer satisfaction (70), while Frontier Communications trailed with a satisfaction score of just 55.
  • Fixed-line telephone services ended up with an aggregate customer satisfaction score of 71, led by Vonage (77) and with Altice USA Suddenlink (61) at the bottom.

About the Data: The ACSI describes its methodology as follows:

“The ACSI Telecommunications Report 2018-2019 on subscription television service, internet service providers, fixed-line telephone service, video-on-demand service, and video streaming service is based on interviews with 38,681 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between April 5, 2018, and March 27, 2019. Customers are asked to evaluate their recent experiences with the largest telecommunications service providers in terms of market share, plus an aggregate category consisting of “all other”—and thus smaller—companies in those industries.

The survey data are used as inputs to ACSI’s cause-and-effect econometric model, which estimates customer satisfaction as the result of the survey-measured inputs of customer expectations, perceptions of quality, and perceptions of value. The ACSI model, in turn, links customer satisfaction with the survey-measured outcomes of customer complaints and customer loyalty. ACSI clients receive confidential industry-competitive and best-in-class data on all modeled variables and customer experience benchmarks.”

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