Westlake Village, Calif. - A new J.D. Power and Associates study on 2009 U.S. residential television service satisfaction found a considerable increase in customer satisfaction levels with service providers from a year ago.
The firm found overall satisfaction averages 632 on a 1,000-point scale, up 23 points from 609 in 2008.
Last year's numbers marked the lowest industry average in the past five years, J.D. Power said.
"In the wake of receding satisfaction scores in 2008, improvements in product performance and the service surrounding it this year suggest that providers are eager to better position themselves to retain and grow their customer bases," stated Frank Perazzini, J.D. Power and Associates telecommunications director. "For instance, average time on hold required to resolve a customer's most recent problem has declined 13 percent from 2008 to nine minutes, five seconds, this year. Additionally, fewer customers are experiencing outages, with 11 percent reporting an outage in 2009, compared with 15 percent in 2008."
The 2009 U.S. Residential Television Service Satisfaction Study was conducted in January, March and July 2009 and was based on responses from 28,118 U.S. households evaluating the service of cable, satellite or IPTV providers.
The study covered the East, North Central, West and South segments of the country, and focused on five satisfaction factors: performance and reliability, customer service, cost of service, billing, and offerings and promotions.
The positive impact of these changes has also driven an improvement in intention to recommend television service providers, according to the study.
Among satellite TV customers, 78 percent said they "definitely will" or "probably will" recommend their provider to others, up 6 percentage points from 2008.
Sixty percent of cable customers said the same, which was up 5 percentage points from a year ago.
"Despite an improvement in recommendation rates, there isn't a corresponding increase in loyalty," said Perazzini. "In fact, the percentage of cable customers affirming their loyalty to their provider has declined to 25 percent in 2009, from 27 percent in 2008. Satellite providers have experienced a similar decline with a loyalty rate of 40 percent in 2009 - a 4-percentage-point drop from 2008."
Perazzini said the economy is influencing customers to keep their options open, even if they are satisfied with their current provider. To counter the trend, he recommended "providers continue to enhance the service improvements offered this year, and to remain competitive from a cost and offerings perspective."
According to the study, AT&T U-verse ranked highest in the West (with an index score of 721) and South (718) regions for the second straight year. In the East region, Verizon FiOS ranked highest for a second consecutive year, scoring 714, while Wow! ranked highest in the North Central Region, with 724.
The study also found that the number of cable customers who subscribe to additional premium channels has declined to 29 percent in 2009, from 32 percent in 2008.
The number of customers using video-on-demand and pay-per-view services declined two percentage points to 33 percent from last year. Similarly, 16 percent reported using pay-per-view, compared with 18 percent in 2008.
"It appears the economy has had an impact on the use of additional video services in 2009," said Perazzini. "However, while there has been some belt-tightening regarding most additional services, DVR usage has risen 22 percentage points, to 40 percent, this year as more households utilize this tool to shift the view time for their preferred free programming."