In a world where you can watch any TV show pretty much anytime you want, it is questionable why you still need to pay for Cable TV. Afterall, if you can get the same entertainment elsewhere for less, why should you pay more for a service that is quickly becoming ancient.
What’s worse, Cable TV programming offers little flexibility and overall poor quality compared to on-demand streaming options.
But is it as bad as everyone seems to make it out? Despite posting the lowest customer satisfaction of any industry, Cable TV companies are still managing to hold on to more than 50 million subscribers countryide.
If you’re among those 50 million cable subscribers still sticking it out with one of the TV companies, it is a good time to see how the companies fair against each other.
Unsurprisingly, all the cable companies we researched have the exact same features. What’s more, they also seem to have the identical flaws, strange as it seems – complicated billing, poor customer service, regular rate hikes, sluggish installation appointments, complicated packages, and more.
If you are still sticking it out with cable and have more than one option to choose from, our advice is to prioritize customer service. Overall, you are dealing with the worst in customer service of any industry.
After customer service, go for value – if you should stick with a service that is a pain, then pay less at least because its not okay to pay more for something which is not worthy.
Our research ranked the companies from least worst to worst.
Least worst overall – Verizon Fios
Verizon Fios is available in only 13 states but it manages to come out on top of all otehr fiber optic options in terms of availability. In addition, Verizon’s customer satisfaction score is the highest in the cable TV industry at 71, 20 points above the worst ranked company.
Even as the future of cable TV looks cloudy, Verizon seems to be getting stronger. In the first quarter of 2015, the company added 90,000 subscribers to its service, a lot more than any other cable TV company. Better yet, the company’s digital TV service is 100 percent fiber optic, ensuring lightning-fast movie downloads and a crisp clear picture, not to mention 100 percent reliability during winter storms that typically render traditional cable inaccessible.
Broadcast coverage – Comcast
Despite its wide nationwide coverage (biggest cable TV company) Comcast scored only 54 points on the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) research group. Naturally, you should expect average customer service here, rate hikes after the initial subscription period, and longer installation times.
That being said, Comcast has an impressive selection of channels and package options. Plus, it’s new X1 DVR has some advanced functionality including voice-search enabled remote, function to record 5 channels at once, and 500GB of storage space. However, you need to sign up for a 2 year Triple Play contract that comes with a landline phone.
Number of channels – AT&T U-Verse
AT&T’s U-Verse is 100 percent fiber optic, which means you can expect a crisp picture. It also offers a massive channel lineup and after the company’s acquisition of DirecTV, it’s bundling options are impressive too.
While it’s customer service is a few points lower than Verizon’s, U-verse’s massive channel lineup gives it a slight competitive edge.
Big isn’t necessarily better – Time Warner Cable
Time Warner Cable is a large cabe company (fourth largest) but its size and clout has not helped its customer service provision; the company has the poorest customer service according to data from the ACSI. And since customer service is a big differentiator in an industry where positives and flaws are similar, we urge you to proceed with caution.
Worst customer service – Mediacom
Mediacom has descent coverage (23 states) but its dismal customer satisfaction score puts it among the worst cable TV providers. Frequent outages, equipment failures, and missing channels, are some of the issues that fill up the company’s customer support forums and Twitter handle.
In the end, the company that serves your neighborhood best is probabaly the best for you. If you are in a priviledged position to have multiple options, compare customer satisfaction scores and choose the best. The rest of the features are likely to be standard. You can also think about cutting the cord altogether if cable becomes a big pain to deal with.