Cable TV companies continue to do a poor job satisfying their customers, as new options emerge for consumers
Most pay TV providers continue to do a poor job, leaving their customers feeling like their service isn’t worth the money, according to ratings from Consumer Reports. This includes some the country’s largest operators – Comcast, Spectrum (Charter, Time Warner Cable), and Cox Communications Cable – who earned low scores in many categories, including value and customer service.
The standouts for TV service in Consumer Report’s ratings were EPB Fiber, a municipal broadband service run as a public utility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Google Fiber, a service offered by Google in a handful of markets. Both earned high scores for overall satisfaction, reliability, and equipment and were the only two of the more than 30 providers in the ratings to get better than the lowest score for value. Two smaller cable companies, Armstrong and Consolidated Communications, also did better than most.
“Though consumer dissatisfaction with their cable companies has been simmering for quite some time, it’s now starting to boil over in terms of actual cord-cutting from traditional pay TV providers,” said Jim Willcox, senior electronics editor at Consumer Reports. “The good news is that there are now more alternatives, so it’s possible for consumers to get the shows and movies they want, often at a lower price than a traditional pay TV plan.”
There are now several new online streaming services that are designed to replicate a traditional pay-TV package. These include Direct TV Now, Hulu With Live TV, Sling TV, Sony PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV. All offer cord-cutters a wide variety of programs. Hulu With Live TV, for example, offers about 50 channels, including major networks in some areas and sports channels such as CBS Sports, ESPN, and Fox Sports, for $40 per month.
Cord-cutters, however, still need internet access. Google Fiber is the top-rated provider in Consumer Report’s ratings, the only company with excellent marks for reliability and value. Overall, fiber providers did better than cable companies, especially larger ones such as Spectrum and Comcast, which were in the bottom half the rankings.
Consumer Reports ratings of TV, Internet, and bundled service providers, along with a guide to navigating the various cable replacement services, is available at CR.org and in the August 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine. The magazine also is available at most libraries.