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How Screwed Up Is the U.S. Pay TV Biz? U-verse TV, Which AT&T Doesn’t Even Sell Anymore, Ranks No. 1 in Customer Satisfaction

AT&T U-verse
(Image credit: AT&T)

AT&T stopped selling new subscriptions to one its several legacy pay TV services, U-verse TV, in April of 2020. But according to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index ranking of telecom services, U-verse TV is the top-rated U.S. pay TV platform, improving its score by an impressive 6% in the 12 months since the ASCI published its last report. 

So the U.S. pay TV business, which is currently in free fall, is sunsetting its most well-received product? If not for the involvement of AT&T, that would not make sense. 

Notably, AT&T’s other linear pay TV service, satellite TV platform DirecTV, saw its score improve by 3% and placed No. 3 in ASCI’s pay TV services ranking with a 66 score, eight points lower than U-verse. 

U-Verse also ranked No. 1 in terms of its VOD component, and AT&T was also named the top customer satisfaction generator for both wireline internet and landline telephone services. 

In February, AT&T reached an agreement with private equity firm TPG Capital to spin off its entire U.S. subscription video unit, which includes U-verse TV, DirecTV and the newer IP-based AT&T TV. These three services, which AT&T combines under the heading “premium TV” on its balance sheets, lost a combined 620,000 subscribers in the first quarter … some of them presumably satisfied.

ASCI didn’t include AT&T TV in its rankings. However, in ASCI's ranking of streaming video services—which Next TV sibling pub Broadcasting & Cable wrote about Tuesday morning— placed AT&T TV Now near the bottom. Skinny bundled streaming service AT&T TV Now operated on the same technology platform as AT&T TV and was recently subsumed by AT&T TV. 

Also notable: Ranking No. 1 in customer satisfaction for U.S. linear pay TV services was Fios TV, a platform Verizon has seemingly given up on amid its current fixation with 5G buildout. 

The ACSI Telecommunications Study 2020-2021 is based on interviews with 37,907 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between April 1, 2020, and March 29, 2021.

American Customer Satisfaction index - pay TV 2021

(Image credit: ASCI)