Cable Operators

Consumers Hammer Cable in J.D. Power Study

8/18/2004 5:17 AM Eastern

First came an ugly second quarter, during which direct-broadcast satellite companies gained more than 600,000 subscribers while cable lost more than 200,000.

Now, J.D. Power and Associates has released its annual customer-satisfaction survey, and only one MSO -- Cox Communications Inc. -- has landed in the top five.

The survey of 8,668 U.S. homes found EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network finishing first, followed by DirecTV Inc., WideOpenWest LLC, Cox and RCN Corp. Bright House Networks was sixth.

Overall, satellite scored a 723 on a 1,000-point scale, compared with digital cable’s 659 and analog cable’s 621.

Dish gained top scores in billing, cost of service and offerings/promotions. Customer service was the top driver in consumer satisfaction, Power said.

"The opportunity to purchase voice products from pay TV providers and vice versa from historical voice providers has no doubt contributed to this dramatic increase in the importance of customer service," said Steve Kirkeby, senior director of telecommunications at J.D. Power.

Dissatisfied consumers are more susceptible to bundling and pricing promotions from competitors, he added.