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JD Power: Cable customer satisfaction improves, but churn still troubling

Tue, 08/16/2005 - 8:00pm
Jeff Baumgartner, CED

Cable's customer satisfaction ratings have picked up, but that hasn't kept people from defecting to the DBS camp, says a new study from JD Power and Associates.

For the first time in four years, a cable company -- WideOpenWest (WOW!) - held the top ranking, with a customer satisfaction index score of 717 on a 1,000-point scale. DirecTV Inc. was close behind with a 716, followed by Cox Communications (711), EchoStar Communications (708), Cable One (693) and Bright House (670), which were all ahead of the industry average of 667.

Below the line were Time Warner Cable (664), RCN Corp. (652), Insight Communications (649), Cablevision Systems Corp. (648), Comcast Cable (631), Charter Communications (617), Adelphia Communications (603), and Mediacom Communications (599).

In 2001, Ameritech New Media (whose systems are now with WOW!) was the last "cable" company to hold the top spot. Before that, Cox, in 1996, was the last cable MSO to attain that distinction.

While the cable category generally improved, satellite satisfaction numbers dipped. In 2004, EchoStar was ranked highest, with a score of 725, 17 points higher than its showing in 2005. DirecTV's 716 score in 2005 was five points off last year's score of 721.

"Overall, satellite customers are still more satisfied with their service than cable subscribers, but if satellite providers want to continue to attract subscribers away from cable, customer satisfaction is a critical area where they can't afford to lose ground," said JD Power Senior Director of Telecommunication Research Steve Kirkeby.

While customer satisfaction figures improved for cable, churn continues to head in the other direction.

Based on responses from 11,586 households, JD Powers' 2005 Residential Cable/Satellite TV Satisfaction Study found that 27 percent of U.S. homes only subscribe to satellite service, up from 19 percent in 2004, and 12 percent in 2000. In comparison, 60 percent of homes only subscribe to cable, compared to 62 percent in 2004, and 66 percent in 2000.

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