TV watchers are far more satisfied with streaming video services than cable or satellite TV systems, a new survey has found. That isn't much of an accomplishment, as cable and satellite TV providers were already among the most-hated companies in the US and saw their customer-satisfaction scores sink even lower in the latest survey.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) included video streaming in its annual telecom report for the first time. Streaming video services averaged a score of 75 on the ACSI's 100-point scale, better than all other telecom sectors and well ahead of the broadband and pay-TV industry scores of 62.
"Customer satisfaction with subscription television service falls 3.1 percent to an ACSI score of 62, an 11-year low as the industry faces a seismic shift of subscribers defecting to lower-cost online video streaming services," the report said. "In response, many cable and telecom companies are offering new Internet TV streaming in addition to legacy pay TV, but cord cutting continues."
Netflix, Sony PlayStation Vue, and Twitch led video providers with scores of 78, the ACSI wrote. "Apple iTunes and the Microsoft Store take second place at 77, with YouTube Red in third at 76. Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Hulu, and Vudu all sit at the industry average of 75, followed by the network channel subscriptions: CBS All Access at 74 and HBO Now and Starz at 72."
The lowest-rated streaming service was Sony's Crackle, but even Crackle's score of 68 "rates higher than nearly all subscription TV services."
Netflix was "responsible for much of the new video-distribution model" and "continues to dominate among subscription-based services, adding a record-high 7.41 million customers in the first quarter of 2018," the ACSI said.
PlayStation Vue has won fans by offering high levels of customization and flexibility. "Its users don't mind paying more for what they perceive to be a strong value, which places it in good position with cord cutters disgruntled with cable TV service," the ACSI wrote.
Amazon's Twitch has capitalized on the growing popularity of streaming video games and esports, the report noted.
Comcast and Charter rank near the bottom
In the traditional pay-TV category, AT&T's U-Verse led the way with a score of 70, followed by Verizon FiOS at 68 and Dish at 67. The AT&T-owned DirecTV scored a 64, down from 68 the previous year. Comcast and Charter, the two biggest US cable companies, ranked near the bottom with scores of 57 and 58, respectively. Charter had a big drop after scoring 63 in 2017.
The ACSI telecom report was based on interviews with 45,292 randomly chosen customers surveyed between April 2017 and March 2018.
Check out the scores for traditional TV providers and streaming providers here:
Streaming video services beat cable and satellite TV when it came to ease of understanding bills, ease of use, and call-center satisfaction. The streaming and traditional TV industries rated about the same in satisfaction with the variety of movies and TV shows.
Cable and broadband: Lowest-rated industries
Traditional pay-TV and Internet service providers continued to fare poorly overall, posting "the lowest customer-satisfaction [scores] of all industries tracked by the ACSI," the group said.
The broadband and pay-TV sectors each posted scores of 64 in last year's survey, tying for last among 44 industries. Their scores dropped to 62 this year, lower than sectors including airlines, hospitals, municipal utilities, and the US Postal Service. While pay TV and broadband are tied for last again so far this year, the ACSI hasn't finished its 2018 ratings for most of the industries it tracks.
Most of the major ISPs suffered small drops in overall satisfaction scores.
"According to users, most aspects of ISPs are getting worse," the ACSI wrote. "Courtesy and helpfulness of staff has waned to 76 and in-store service is slower (74). Bills are more difficult to understand (-3 percent to 71), and customers arent happy with the variety of plans available (-3 percent to 64)."
Here's a look at broadband customer satisfaction scores:
Disclosure: The Advance/Newhouse Partnership, which owns 13 percent of Charter, is part of Advance Publications. Advance Publications owns Condé Nast, which owns Ars Technica.