Cable operators were shut out of the top spots in their respective regions in the latest J.D. Power and Associates 2011 residential television service satisfaction study, while AT&T and DirecTV posted the highest scores.
The study measured customer satisfaction with cable, satellite and Internet protocol (IPTV) television providers in four regional segments: North Central, East, West and South. In each segment, six factors were measured to determine overall customer satisfaction: programming, performance and reliability, customer service, cost of service, billing, and offerings and promotions.
For a fourth consecutive year, AT&T U-verse ranked highest in the West (with an index score of 686 on a 1,000-point scale) and South (687) regions. For a second consecutive year, AT&T U-verse also ranked highest in the North Central region (699). In the East region, DirecTV ranked highest with a score of 686.
Customers gave AT&T U-verse particularly high marks in the programming and offerings and promotions categories, which look at a variety of programming choices, services, member incentives and communications.
Among cable operators, Bright House Networks placed second in the South region, while WOW was second in the North Central region.
The 2011 U.S. residential television service satisfaction study was based on responses from 23,880 customers nationwide that evaluated their cable, satellite or telephone company-based provider. The study was fielded in four waves: November 2010, January 2011, April 2011 and July 2011.
The study also assigned "Power Circle" ratings for each video provider: a rating of five was among the best; four, better than most; three, about average; and two, "the rest."
The study also found that growth in residential television service revenues was being fueled by increased penetration of DVR hardware and additional viewing services.
DVR subscriptions among residential TV customers with cable service grew to 45 percent in 2011 from 38 percent in 2010. Among households with satellite TV service, 64 percent in 2011 have DVR boxes, compared with 59 percent in 2010.
In addition, the proportion of households with more than one DVR box also spiked up. Among households with cable service, 35 percent have multiple DVR boxes in 2011, compared with 28 percent in 2010. Among households with satellite service, this figure increased to 45 percent in 2011 from 40 percent in 2010.
"As prices continue to fall, penetration of HDTVs in homes has increased by 8 percentage points during the past year," said Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power and Associates. "Increased integration of HDTVs with multi-room DVR setups has been key to driving additional revenue for service providers. In fact, average monthly billing for triple-play customers, those subscribing to telephone, television and Internet service, climbed to $149.52 in 2011 from $140.90 in 2010."
The study found that video-on-demand (VOD) was a continuing bright spot for service providers this year. VOD viewership rose to 39 percent from 35 percent in 2010 among cable subscribers and to 18 percent from 16 percent among satellite subscribers.
"Regular VOD viewing improves loyalty," said Perazzini. "Thirty-nine percent of viewers who watch 10 or more hours of VOD per month consider themselves loyal to their provider, while the average among non-VOD users is 31 percent."