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Is Satellite TV Subscriber Satisfaction Rising?

By | June 9, 2003

      A new survey commissioned by the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association (SBCA) found that the satisfaction level of U.S. satellite TV subscribers grew during the past year in a variety of ways, from providing popular channels to offering a good value for the money.

      The survey of 1,500 satellite TV households determined that satisfaction rose due to superior customer support, value pricing and a strong programming lineup. The survey conducted by the Taylor Research & Consulting Group for the SBCA was more bullish than an analysis performed earlier this year by the Durham, N.H.-based Leichtman Research Group.

      The Taylor Group identified a number of reasons why satisfaction levels are up:

      • Providing adequate instruction on how to use the system, up to 88 percent from 82 percent;
      • Presenting desired programming, to 84 percent from 77 percent;
      • Offering trouble-free installation, to 83 percent from 77 percent;
      • Employing professional, courteous people, to 82 percent from 75 percent;
      • Delivering desired basic programming, to 81 percent from 75 percent;
      • Giving timely access to customer service, to 77 percent from 66 percent; and
      • Generating good value for the money, to 75 percent from 67 percent

      Results of the Taylor survey, presented at the recent SkyForum conference in New York, also showed that just one in four new direct broadcast satellite (DBS) subscribers gave serious consideration to digital cable before ultimately deciding to go with DBS. Those results suggest that DBS has a strong position compared with cable.

      At the same time, the study also detected a downward trend for subscribers to buy premium programming packages. The researchers suggested that the satellite TV providers might want to bundle premium and basic services to counteract the trend.

      In its nationwide study of 1,250 households in areas where cable is available, Leichtman Research found:

      • 70 percent of DBS subscribers rated the satisfaction with their provider an 8-10 (on a 1-10 scale);
      • 50 percent of all cable subscribers rated the satisfaction with their provider an 8-10 (on a 1-10 scale). This breaks down to 55 percent of digital cable subscribers rating satisfaction an 8-10; and 47 percent of analog subscribers rated satisfaction an 8-10.

      These results were virtually unchanged from a similar survey conducted by Leichtman last year:

      • 69 percent of DBS subscribers rated 8-10 (on a 1-10 scale) that their DBS provider is “a company that I would recommend to a friend”;
      • 47 percent of digital cable subscribers expressed the same view; and
      • 44 percent of analog subscribers said that their cable company is “a company that I would recommend to a friend.”

      The Leitchman study, however, offered a note of caution for DBS. Subscribers reported that they are just as likely as cable subscribers to switch service in the next six months.

      –Paul Dykewicz

      (Jason Grucel, The Taylor Research & Consulting Group, 603/422-7615; Bruce Leichtman, Leichtman Research Group, 603/397-5400)

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