DBS Is No. 1 in Rural U.S.

Satellite-TV providers, having added market share, are the top multichannel-video suppliers in rural America, according to a Leichtman Research Group Inc. rural survey.

LRG said 42% of individuals who define themselves as living in a rural area say they subscribe only to direct-broadcast satellite TV; 37% get only cable and 2% get both cable and DBS.

A year ago, a similar survey found DBS-only and cable-only claimants in rural areas were even at 38%.

Despite DBS gains in urban and suburban areas, cable still has nearly a 4-to-1 subscriber advantage in these areas, LRG found. Of those nationwide who identify themselves as living in an urban or suburban area, 63% report they subscribe only to cable; 17% only get DBS and 2% get both cable and DBS. A year ago, the result was 65% said they got cable only; 13% got DBS and 2% got both.

These findings are based on a telephone survey of 1,600 randomly selected households from throughout the United States and are part of a new LRG study, Cable & DBS: Competing for Customers 2005, LRG’s third annual study of this topic.

Other key findings include 81% of households nationwide subscribe to some form of multichannel video service; 89% report cable TV is available where they live and in rural areas, 71% say that cable TV is available — compared to 96% in urban areas and 97% in the suburbs

Where cable is available, DBS penetration is twice as high in rural areas as in other areas.

DBS continues to lead cable in customer satisfaction ratings, but a similar percentage of cable and DBS subscribers express a likelihood to switch providers in the next six months, LRG said.

LRG president and principal analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement “the impact of DBS has been greatest in areas where cable has not sufficiently upgraded its offerings to respond to the more competitive landscape.”