According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) 2018 Telecommunications Report, customer satisfaction with video streaming services eclipses that of traditional subscription pay TV service. Video streaming services made their debut in this year's telecom report with an ACSI score of 75 out of a possible 100, compared to pay TV's score of 62, which is a 3.1% decline over last year and an 11-year low for the industry.
"Video streaming services significantly outperformed subscription TV," said David VanAmburg, managing director at the ACSI. "Streaming services don't have the hidden fees and six-month rates that subscription TV does, not to mention they're cheaper and simpler. But because consumers don't have many options when choosing a subscription TV provider, those businesses don't see a lot of risk in customer dissatisfaction, and we're unlikely to see dramatic changes any time soon."
With an ACSI score of 75, video streaming services were the highest-performing telecom industry measured. Netflix, Sony PlayStation Vue, and Twitch all led the pack, tying at a score of 78. Apple iTunes and the Microsoft Store took second place at 77, with YouTube Red in third at 76.
Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Hulu, and Vudu all sat at the industry average of 75, followed by the network channel subscriptions: CBS All Access at 74, and HBO Now and Starz at 72.
Bringing up the rear were Sling TV (71), DirecTV NOW (70), Showtime Anytime (70), and Sony Crackle (68).
Video streaming services received high marks for ease of understanding the bill (80), website satisfaction (80), and call centers (75), but customers dinged them on availability of the current season's TV shows (71) and availability of new movie titles (69).
Among traditional pay TV providers, AT&T's U-verse TV topped the list with a 70, one of only two scores that stayed the same instead of dropping. Verizon Fios fell 4% year-over-year to a 68 for second place, while DISH Network held steady at 67 for third.
In the middle of the pack, DirecTV and Optimum both fell 6% to 64 and 62, respectively. Cox Communications shed 2% to 60, while Spectrum and Suddenlink both fell 8% to 58.
Comcast Xfinity decreased 2% to 57, Frontier Communications dropped 7% to 56, and Mediacom placed last with a 55, down 2%.
The top-rated part of the subscription TV experience is HD picture quality, which held steady at 80. Picture quality was close behind, down 1% to 78.
While courtesy and helpfulness of store and service center staff had a relatively good score of 77, and speed of store and service center transactions received a 76, call center satisfaction slipped 3% to 63.
"If you look at retail, airlines, and many other industries, companies like to reward customer loyalty, offering perks or discounts for doing business with them," said VanAmburg. "Telecom is the exact opposite. In many ways, loyalty is punished because subscription TV is focused on customer acquisition and offering the best deal to lure customers away from competitors. In the long run, that doesn't leave customers very satisfied."
Among video-on-demand (VOD) services, AT&T's U-verse TV took the top spot with a 74, followed by DISH Network at 73, and Verizon Fios at 72. At 70, AT&T's DirecTV came in far below its U-verse offering, but ahead of the industry average.
Optimum led all cable companies in VOD at the industry average of 68, while Cox Communications and Xfinity tied at 67, and Spectrum came in last at 64.
VOD viewers surveyed said they were pleased with the number of TV shows (75), current seasons (74) and variety by category (74) available. However, the availability of a past season's shows was lacking (69) as were free on-demand content (69) and new movie titles (68). Call centers received the lowest marks (67), but call center service performed better for on-demand customers than for Internet and subscription TV.
While video streaming services receive much better customer satisfaction scores than subscription TV, viewers still need Internet access to get it. Unfortunately, Internet service providers (ISPs), along with subscription TV, had the lowest customer satisfaction of all industries tracked by the ACSI.
ISPs were down 3.1% to 62. Every major ISP deteriorated this year except Xfinity, which remained unchanged.
Verizon Fios stayed in first place at 70 after a 1% dip. AT&T Internet also fell 1% for a second-place score of 68, followed by Optimum, which dropped 6% to 64.
Suddenlink and Spectrum both fell 8% to 61 and 60, respectively, followed by Xfinity, unchanged at 60. Mediacom placed last with a 53 after a 9% drop year-over-year.
Call center satisfaction, already low, fell another 3% to 59. Customers were also less satisfied with overall data transfer speed, which sank 3% to 67, and the variety of internet plans available, which shed 3% to 64. The one bright spot: Courtesy and helpfulness of store and service center staff, and speed of store and service center transactions both rated well, at 76 and 74, respectively, though both are down from last year.
The ACSI Telecommunications Report 2018 is based on 45,292 customer surveys collected between April 19, 2017, and March 17, 2018.