Shockingly, Streaming Providers Are Dominating Cable At Customer Satisfaction

from the innovation-nation dept

It's really no secret that traditional cable and broadband providers have some of the worst customer satisfaction of any companies in America. Comcast and Charter (Spectrum) in particular can usually be found stumbling around in last place in most satisfaction and support rankings. That's been particularly true of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which routinely shows cable and broadband providers rank consistently worse than nearly any other company in any industry in America. In fact, these companies even tend to be ranked worse than Americans' experiences with government agencies like the IRS.

And despite seemingly bi-annual promises by these companies that customer service is their top priority (remember when Comcast promised a new "Customer Experience VP" would fix everything?), it's actually getting worse.

According to the latest ACSI report, high prices, bloated cable bundles, and terrible customer service continue to leave customers angry and frustrated:

"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. In response, many cable and telecom companies are offering new Internet TV streaming in addition to legacy pay TV, but cord cutting continues."

While some cable companies have finally realized the error of their ways and begun offering less expensive, more flexible streaming alternatives (Dish's SlingTV and AT&T's DirecTV Now), by and large the mindset of the cable industry remains focused on doubling down on a lot of the dumb ideas (predominately aggressive price hikes) that brought them to this point in the first place.

For example Charter Communications, which has been pummeling consumers with price hikes in the wake of its $89 billion merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, took a particularly steep tumble during these latest satisfaction ratings for traditional cable providers:

The same story is playing out with broadband ISP satisfaction ratings, where limited competition often results in high prices as well:

It's worth noting that this year was the first year the index ranked streaming video alternatives, and (shockingly) the companies that are now offering lower prices, more flexible and innovative services, and better customer service are doing significantly better than traditional cable. Netflix, Sony PlayStation Vue, and Twitch all saw scores of 78, and the lowest rated streaming provider (Crackle at 68) was still rated better than nearly all traditional TV providers:

And while cord cutting is expected to break records this year, that's not to say that cable providers can't turn things around. Industry executives simply have to stop pretending that the traditional TV cash cow will live forever, and begin to compete by offering cheaper, more flexible options with better customer support. The bottom line many cable executives can't acknowledge is: competition simply means TV isn't going to be as profitable as it used to be, and they're going to have to actually try now. You can either get out ahead of this phenomenon now through adaptation, or continue doubling down on the same bad ideas that resulted in record cable TV customer defections in the first place.


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 29 May 2018 @ 11:43am

    "and they're going to have to actually try now"

    Barely. They can impose unforgiving data caps and exempt their own services. So they have to try just a tiny little bit.

    Still, I have this feeling that if I hired Naruto (the monkey) to handle customer service it would do a better job than those telcos. Providing PETA didn't sue on behalf of the monkey.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 29 May 2018 @ 7:44pm

      Re:

      Imposing usage caps that impair their direct TV business competitors, especially if coupled to zero-rating their own TV streams, sounds like an AWESOME way to lose a Sherman anti-trust case.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 12:24pm

    but how do pirate sites stack up?

    If only American Customer Satisfaction Index had included "pirate" sites on its survey, they might have had even higher customer satisfaction ratings than Netflix and other Hollywood-approved streaming services.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 12:32pm

    Microsoft ranked above Google! -- Your data is invalid.

    This is no more than popularity of the content, not delivery system, most of which is carried by what? Cable companies.

    I agree with AC at #2: you can't compete with free!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 12:36pm

      Re: Microsoft ranked above Google! -- Your data is invalid.

      you can't compete with free!

      I disagree. "Free" often means "crappy", "hard to use" and/or "malware risk" when it comes to free media on the net. You can compete with that by being reasonably priced and offering a safe, easy way to access high quality content.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 29 May 2018 @ 12:52pm

        Can be, but not always

        Free doesn't necessarily mean 'lower quality', and can in fact mean higher quality if the paid for version is say infected by DRM that makes the product worse, DRM which is stripped out by those fiendish copyright infringers.

        As noted by an old article on TD, saying you can't compete with free is basically saying you can't compete at all, because odds are good you already are. Whether that free alternative comes in the form of unauthorized versions of your own stuff or free stuff from other people odds are good there are alternatives, and it's up to you to add value to convince people to give you money rather than taking one of those alternatives, such as using the methods you listed(safe, easy, cheap).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 1:10pm

        Re: Re: Microsoft ranked above Google! -- Your data is invalid.

        YouTube, Jamendo and Project Gutenberg are all easy to use, and as safe as any source on the Internet for that matter. Further they all have quality content to meet most tastes,, and they all provide content for free.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 1:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: Microsoft ranked above Google! -- Your data is invalid.

          Can you watch Game of Thrones on any of those? How about any other popular series or film? Those may provide "free" content (if you're watching ads then "free" is debatable) but quite possibly not the content you want to watch. That's where the pirate sites come into play.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 1:41pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Microsoft ranked above Google! -- Your data is invalid.

            All the major streaming sites are hostile towards Linux users, also I avoid DRM laden products and breaking the law. I am a lost cause as far as big content is concerned, as I totally ignore their content, in favor of content from those who welcome an audience

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 1:44pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Microsoft ranked above Google! -- Your data is invalid.

            YES and YES! YouTube probably hosts far more "pirate" content than everyone else put together. Most of Youtube's "hot" contraband are *private* videos that require a direct link to access. Getting the links can require a paid membership to one of numerous "black" sites.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 12:41pm

      Re: Microsoft ranked above Google! -- Your data is invalid.

      That's a wonderful assertion with nothing to back it up, as usual.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 12:49pm

      Crybaby

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 12:51pm

      Re: Microsoft ranked above Google! -- Your data is invalid.

      "I agree with AC at #2: you can't compete with free!"

      Many unauthorized ("pirate") services are not free. Some are not even cheap.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 29 May 2018 @ 12:59pm

      You and your Google obsession...

      If the content was all that mattered then there wouldn't be a large difference in customer satisfaction between subscription tv vs streaming options. That there is(and not a small one) shows that your claim is bunk, and in fact quality of the service is what's being measured here, not merely the content on it.

      Still, thanks for another laugh.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 2:18pm

      Re: Microsoft ranked above Google! -- Your data is invalid.

      "This is no more than popularity of the content, not delivery system, most of which is carried by what? Cable companies."

      You mean all those dis-satisfied comcrap customers are wrong?
      They actually like their isp and lie about it ... why would they do that?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 7:18pm

      Re: Microsoft ranked above Google! -- Your data is invalid.

      Yeah, Microsoft ranked above Google. So Google's not the biggest corporation/monopoly/whatever. Yet you'll keep bitching about it, right blue boy?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AnonCow, 29 May 2018 @ 1:02pm

    This is why the broadband industry is trying so desperately to stop communities from building their own broadband service.

    Once I can buy gigabit from my community ISP and run YouTube TV over it, Comcast goes from being a broadband provider to a content provider thru its ownership of media properties like NBC/Universal which would destroy its market valuation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2018 @ 2:20pm

      Re:

      Yeah, they say they are in favor of a free market but when it looks like there may be competition on the horizon it is battle stations & full alert in order to stop that threat to their monopoly.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 29 May 2018 @ 2:06pm

    When Netflix is competing with Disney and Comcast as the most valuable company...

    2 of which are "relatively" popular, offer their own streaming services, and "relatively" quality content...

    And then there's Comcast...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zem, 29 May 2018 @ 2:40pm

    This is what happens when your technology back end is actually designed to prevent your customers accessing content while your competitors does the opposite.

    No amount of support staff will make someone happy about your shit sandwich.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 29 May 2018 @ 3:09pm

    Shockingly?

    Shockingly, Streaming Providers Are Dominating Cable At Customer Satisfaction

    Frankly, not dominating Cable at customer satisfaction seems like more of a feat. Right now I can only think of selected torture camps possibly clearing that limbo bar.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 29 May 2018 @ 4:02pm

      Re: Shockingly?

      Thanks for explaining how sarcasm works!

      (Note: I am not actually thanking you. I am using the word "thanks" to mean the opposite of what it actually means.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 May 2018 @ 6:27am

      Re: Shockingly?

      In other news, the New England Patriots surprisingly dominated in their charity football game against the Boston Red Wings, Usain Bolt shockingly managed to outrace Michael Phelps in a 100-metre sprint, and "None of the Above" flabbergastingly rated higher for trustworthiness than a long list of politicians.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 29 May 2018 @ 7:59pm

    Streaming providers could break in and trash your house & still have better reviews than cable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 30 May 2018 @ 2:54pm

    You've Got to Give the People What They Want

    Offering 'a la carte programing options might be enough to entice legacy cable subscribers to stick around.

    It would be nice if there were more 'a la carte streaming options available too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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