DirecTV Tops J.D. Power Survey

DirecTV and EchoStar Communications once again dominated J.D. Power & Associates’ annual customer-satisfaction survey, while top cable distributor Comcast ranked below average in all regions.

Adelphia Communications -- which was recently absorbed by Time Warner Cable and Comcast -- ranked at the bottom of the survey in the East, north-central and West regions.

J.D. ranked DirecTV as the best pay TV company overall, with the direct-broadcast satellite provider receiving the top rankings in overall satisfaction; performance and reliability; cost of service; billing; image; offerings and promotions; and customer service.

DirecTV scored the most points on J.D. Power’s survey in the East region, with 686. It was followed by Cox Communications (664), EchoStar’s Dish Network (648) and Time Warner (637). Pay TV providers scoring below average in the East region included Cablevision Systems (607), Comcast (591), RCN (590), Charter Communications (575) and Adelphia (562).

Cox was the top pay TV provider in the West region, scoring 690 points. It was followed by Dish (662) and DirecTV (661). Companies scoring below average in the West region were Comcast (622), Time Warner (605), Charter (596), Cable One (587), Mediacom Communications (577) and Adelphia (544).

Bright House Networks led the customer-satisfaction survey in the South region, scoring 682 points. Also scoring high marks in the South were DirecTV (676), Time Warner (651), Dish (647), Cable One (644), Cox (640) and Insight Communications (639). Companies scoring below average in the South were Comcast (591), Adelphia (579), Charter (571) and Mediacom (563).

The north-central region was led by cable overbuidler WideOpenWest, which scored 708 points. It was followed in the region by DirecTV (677), Dish (648) and Time Warner (636). Companies ranking below average in the north central were Charter (603), Comcast (586), Mediacom (574), Bright House (566) and Adelphia (545).

The good news for cable: Digital-cable penetration increased from 30% in 2005 to 41% in 2006, according to J.D. Power.

The firm also found that bundling helped to reduce cable bills, with cable subscribers reporting average spending of $58 monthly, down $1 from 2005, while satellite subscribers reported spending $61 monthly, up $3 from 2005.

Digital-video-recorder penetration is also on the rise, with J.D. Power reporting that 38% of cable subscribers have DVRs, compared with 25% of satellite customers.

J.D. Power said it based the survey on responses from 15,819 U.S. households that evaluated their cable or satellite providers.