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Cable Stops Slide But Remains in ACSI Cellar

Cable operators improved their ratings significantly in the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index, with some providers improving their overall scores by 15% or more, but still couldn’t pass stronger showings from telco and satellite TV providers.

Cable stopped its two-year decline in ACSI pay TV ratings, rising 3.25% as a whole, but still finishing last in ACSI’s annual customer satisfaction ratings, a random sample of 12,710 consumers, with scores ranging from 54 to 66 out of 100. Telco TV finished first and satellite TV service providers placed second.

Among cable operators, the biggest gainers were Time Warner Cable, which rose 15.7% from a 51 in 2015 to a 59 in 2016 and Comcast, which increased its ACSI score 14.8% from 54 in 2015 to 66 this year. The highest rated cable companies were Bright House Networks and Cablevision Systems, each with a score of 66. Bright House was purchased by Charter Communications (which scored a 60) in May and Altice N.V. is expected to close its purchase of Cablevision later this month.

“It’s not too hard for cable companies to improve when their starting point is the cellar,” said ACSI Managing Director David VanAmburg in a statement.

Acquisitions could play a role in next year’s ratings as companies that are involved in mergers typically post lower scores once their deals are done. Charter closed on its $78.7 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable on May 18, the same day it closed the Bright House deal.

Again, telcos Verizon and AT&T U-Verse had the best scores in the subscription TV segment – 70 and 69, respectively.  DirecTV received a 68 rating (the same as last year) and Dish Network had a 67, even with 2015.

The tables were turned on the Internet Service Provider front, with cable operators performing best. Verizon secured the top spot again with a 73 rating (the highest ever for the segment), with Cablevision Systems up 13% to a score of 69, Bright House Networks up 7% to 67 and Time Warner Cable up 14% to 66. Charter increased its score 11% to 63 in the period.

“High-speed Internet access is a must-have in the digital age, making ISPs and wireless companies critical providers for the workplace as well as the home,” said ACSI founder and chairman Claes Fornell in a statement. “With relatively few options, consumers have limited means for punishing companies for poor service.”