Although it’s easier to switch streaming services than cable or satellite providers, U.S. TV service customers are far more loyal to live streaming services (aka vMVPDs) than traditional pay-TV providers, according to a new J.D. Power report.
Based on responses from 23,584 customers surveyed between October 2022 and August 2023, Power found the likelihood of live TV streaming customers switching services in the next year at just 12%, versus 21% for cable and satellite customers.
Streamers have managed to overcome concerns that have made consumers hesitant to switch from pay-TV services, like worries that streaming may be unreliable, Power reports.
The biggest differentiator in live streamers’ favor is their lower cost of service, where they beat cable/satellite by 156 points (chart top of page) in Power’s scale of a possible 1,000 points max. But streamers also ranked higher on every other factor probed, including customer care (by 80 points), performance and reliability (64 points), and billing and payments (60 points).
Customer care was the area of largest year-over-year improvement for live TV streaming. Customers reported improvements across all care channels, including phone (+24 points), website (+17) and the streamers’ respective apps (+8). Hulu + Live TV has the highest customer care satisfaction score, with YouTube jumping into second, thanks to a 49-point improvement. Overall, 30% of all streaming customers that contacted customer service this year, and 84% felt the provider made it somewhat or very easy to resolve their problem.
“Streamers have always been a more affordable choice, but there was always a trade-off in reliability and customer care,” the Technology, Media, and Telecom Intelligence Report points out. “In the past, cable/satellite providers may have been the beneficiaries of their status as a legacy model that had a high degree of difficulty in switching or outright canceling,” but with streamers now succeeding in all areas, they have “vaulted to a different level in terms of satisfaction and loyalty.”
This has not been lost on cable and satellite subscribers who were previously on the fence about switching.
Bottom line: Traditional pay-TV services run “the very real risk” of fading into the background even faster than anyone anticipated, observes the report.
Among live streamers, YouTube TV — which logged an impressive 500,000 net gain in subscribers in Q3, in part reflecting its rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket package — is ranked highest in customer satisfaction, with 795 points.
But Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV are not far behind. And at 742, even the lowest-ranked vMVPD, FuboTV, is ranked better than any of the cable or satellite providers — including Dish TV (709 points), which has been the best-ranked traditional pay-TV service for six consecutive years now.
Live streamers averaged 781 points on overall customer satisfaction, to cable and satellite services’ 700 points.
Looking at cable/satellite services’ performance by region, Dish performed particularly well in the U.S. North Central (699) and South (725) regions. Verizon Fios ranks highest in the East region, and DirecTV in the West region (704). MediaPost