It’s time for the pay TV industry’s annual slap in the face from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which surveys 70,000 people about the products and services they use most. Cable and satellite distributors always fare badly in these polls — but this year’s results are especially disturbing after a slight uptick last year. The companies’ pay TV services collectively scored 65 out of 100, down 4.4% from last year, making subscription TV the second-least liked of the 43 industries ACSI tracks. What’s worse? Internet service providers, with a score of 63, down 3.1% — and which mostly consists of the same companies. People ”question the value proposition as both, as consumers pay for more than they need in terms of subscription TV and get less than they want in terms of Internet speeds and reliability,” ACSI Chairman Claes Fornell says.
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Despite the growing talk about pay TV cord cutting, providers can feel OK — not great — about consumer attitudes toward them, according to the latest annual measure from the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Subscribers gave cable, satellite, and telco video providers the highest overall satisfaction score ACSI has seen in the 13 years it has measured the public’s feelings about subscription TV. The score of 68 is up 3% vs last year, which ACSI calls “a glimmer of good news.” Even so, researchers say that pay TV remains “among the lowest-scoring industries” they study. Annual price hikes of 6% or so and “sporadic reliability” keep the group just slightly ahead of airlines (67) and Internet service providers (65) but well behind TV and video players/recorders (86), soft drinks (84) and autos and light vehicles (83). (Internet news and information services also come out ahead at 73.) Consumer attitudes vary widely by provider. Time Warner Cable took it on the chin with an industry-low score of 60, down 5% from 2012. Moving up we see Comcast (63, +3%), Charter (64, +8%) and Cox (65, +3%). Satellite and telco video providers scored highest with Verizon FiOS leading (73, -1%) followed by DirecTV (72, +6%), AT&T U-verse (71, +4%) and Dish Network (70, +1%). Read More »
Some bad news today for the cable and satellite companies that have been pooh-poohing the possibility that millions of subscribers will cut the pay TV cord. Researchers at SNL Kagan — one of the most cable-friendly forecasting firms — say they expect 12.1 million homes in 2015 will receive TV shows and movies from Internet services such as Netflix instead of a traditional pay TV provider. That would represent 10% of all households and would be up dramatically from 2.5 million cord cutting homes at the end of 2010 and 4.5 million expected at the end of this year. Although cable and satellite companies still may add pay TV subscribers, SNL Kagan says that “the pace is not expected to keep up with occupied household formation.” About 86% of all homes subscribed to pay TV in 2009 and that dropped to 84.9% last year.
Stéphane Richard, the new CEO of France Télécom and its consumer arm Orange, has held informal talks with Rupert Murdoch about his buying its movie channels. Murdoch does not own any pay-TV channels in France, although Fox channels such as National Geographic are available there.
Orange Cinéma Séries is a bouquet of five channels available on TV, the internet and mobile phones. The movie channels and sister Orange Sports channels have attracted 800,000 paying subs between them. I would imagine Murdoch’s more interested in the sports channels than the movies. He’s always talked about sports being the battering ram for pay-TV. France Télécom, which is open to remaining a minority shareholder, wants somebody to share the cost of soccer rights with.
Richard has told the Financial Times that he wants to close the deal within a few weeks, freeing up France Télécom to concentrate on its core telephony business.
Orange launched Orange Cinéma Séries in November 2008, offering five channels: Orange cinemamax, for HD blockbuster; cinehappy, a family channel; cinehoc, for action films; cinenovo, for independent films’ and cinégéant, for classic films. It’s had an exclusive pay-TV deal with HBO (John Adams), and partnerships with US studios including Warner Bros, Disney and MGM, premiering shows such as Glee.