Americans truly hate their cable and broadband providers

Lara O'Reilly

Americans' satisfaction with their cable TV and internet service providers has plummeted to a seven-year low.

That's according to the latest data released on Tuesday by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI,) which said of the 43 categories it surveys more than 70,000 consumers on — including airlines, energy utilities, and health care — TV and internet companies came rock bottom in terms of satisfaction.

This is seriously worrying for the sector: In an age where consumers can choose to bypass cable TV and fixed line internet altogether — opting for over-the-top internet services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Instant Video, and viewing them using their mobile data plans — it is increasingly important for these legacy companies to keep their customers happy. But they are failing in nearly every aspect, pushing people toward cord-cutting.

The ASCI says this decline in satisfaction is the result of poor customer service, combined with higher prices. But, as you can see in the chart below, customers are also increasingly unhappy with the user experience traditional subscription services are providing them.

Time Warner Cable has performed so terribly in the last year that its pay TV service does not just come last in the ACSI's rankings of cable companies, but of all the companies listed in its entire index, falling 9% year on year to is miserable 51 out of 100 (see the full table of scores below.)

Meanwhile, Comcast fell 10% to a score of 54 and DirectTV dropped 1% to 68.

Charter Communications was a bright spot in the sector (up 5% to 63) but ASCI warns that the news that it is swooping to buy Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks — a $55 billion deal that will make it the second-biggest cable TV company in the country — could make it difficult to maintain its customer satisfaction levels (which, at just 63/100 aren't exactly tip top at the moment anyway.)

ASCI director David VanAmburg says: "Cable companies are trying to strengthen their positions through consolidation, but the benefits to consumers of one coaxial cable company absorbing another are questionable. The AT&T-DirecTV merger may be different, however, because it would allow AT&T to deliver TV service via multiple technologies.”

Americans are fed up with a lack of choice when it comes to broadband

Consumer satisfaction with their internet service providers remained at a score of 63. ASCI says in its report that customers are frustrated with unreliable service, slow broadband speeds, rising prices, and being locked into their contracts. Crucially, 61% of US households have just one or no high-speed broadband provider servicing their region, leaving them dissatisfied with their lack of choice.

Surprisingly, considering how terribly it performed on the cable TV front, Time Warner Cable moved up 7% to a score of 58. AT&T also improved, up 6% to 69.

However, there were some drops elsewhere in the sector:

Comcast -2% to 56

Verizon -4% to 68

Charter Communications -7% to 57

CenturyLink -8% to 60

Cox Communications -9% to 58

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