Survey: 7% Of Pay-TV Subs Pondering Pulling The Plug

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While only 1.4% of consumers have cut the cord in the last two years, 7% of current pay-television subscribers are considering canceling their service, according to a Consumer Reports survey.

In addition, for the third year in a row, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse were the highest-rated providers of triple-play TV, Internet and phone bundles on the survey. Overall, the magazine polled 70,000 Consumer Reports readers, of which 14,233 were triple-play subs.

Cable operators including Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems and Bright House Networks are the "next best choice for many households" for bundled services, according to the magazine's survey. Satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network received above-average survey scores for TV services.

Verizon FiOS had an overall average score of 78 our of 100, following by AT&T U-verse (76), Bright House (74), Cox (73), Qwest International (72); Cablevision (70); Time Warner Cable (68); Comcast (65); and Charter Communications (62). Verizon's and AT&T's "synthetic bundles" of DSL and phone plus DirecTV service both received an average score of 71.

The Consumer Reports' bundled telecom service ratings are based on 14,233 respondents with Internet, TV and phone service, all of whom completed the annual survey online in the spring of 2010.

On Internet services, independent cable operator WideOpenWest was top rated across the board, significantly ahead of Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse for overall satisfaction. WOW routinely scores well on other customer-satisfaction surveys, including those conducted by J.D. Power & Associates.

The survey results appear in the May 2011 issue of Consumer Reports.

The magazine also provides tips for cutting TV and communications costs, including dropping premium channels such as HBO and Showtime; canceling TV service in favor of free, over-to-air broadcast supplemented by a service such as Netflix; and downgrading to a lower-speed broadband tier.

CR found more than 90% of survey respondents still had a pay-TV provider of some sort. About one in six (16%) said they streamed movies and TV shows from a subscription service such as Netflix.

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