Telco, Satellite TV Subs Still Happier Than Cable Customers: J.D. Power

Television subscribers largely continue to rank telco and satellite services higher than cable TV, according to J.D. Power & Associates 2011 customer-satisfaction survey for residential TV services.

Meanwhile, J.D. Power found that increased penetration of DVRs and video-on-demand usage is boosting monthly revenue for pay-TV providers. The average monthly bill for triple-play customers -- those who subscribe to voice, video and Internet service -- climbed to $149.52 in 2011, up 6% from $140.90 last year.

AT&T U-verse TV garnered the top score in the North Central, South and West regions -- marking the fourth consecutive year it ranked highest in the West -- while DirecTV took the trophy in the East, according to J.D. Power.

Overall, DirecTV, Dish Network, U-verse and Verizon Communications' FiOS TV received higher ratings than cable operators across all regions with only two exceptions: Bright House Networks placed second in the South, just slightly behind AT&T; and WideOpenWest was within two points of U-verse in the North Central region.

As in years past, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications ranked below average in each of their regions, while Cox Communications beat out the average in the South, East and West. Cablevision Systems placed just below the East average.

DVR subscriptions among residential TV customers with cable service is now at 45%, up from 38% in 2010. Among households with satellite TV service, 64% have DVRs, versus 59% in 2010. Households with more than one DVR box notably increased, with 35% of cable customers reporting multiple DVR boxes in 2011 (compared with 28% last year) and 45% of satellite customers with multiple DVRs (versus 40% in 2010).

Among cable subs, VOD viewership rose to 39% (up from 35% in 2010). Just 18% of satellite customers use on-demand services, up from 16% in 2010.

"Regular VOD viewing improves loyalty," J.D. Power director of telecommunications Frank Perazzini said in a statement. "Thirty-nine percent of viewers who watch 10 or more hours of VOD per month consider themselves loyal to their provider, while the average among non-VOD users is 31%."

The study also finds that speculation regarding the impending demise of premium channels such as HBO and Showtime may be premature. While penetration of premium channels in households with satellite service has declined to 29 percent in 2011 from 34 percent in 2010, penetration in households with cable service is up slightly to 30 percent from 29 percent during the same period.

J.D. Power's 2011 U.S. Residential Television Service Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 23,880 consumers. The study was fielded in four waves: November 2010, January 2011, April 2011 and July 2011.

The 2011 rankings for providers by region can be found here: