Not only are Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) the worst providers of both cable TV and Internet service, the two industries in which these companies operate are the most hated by American consumers. Even the airlines rate higher than subscription TV and Internet service providers (ISPs).
The data comes from the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report being released Tuesday. Year over year, ISPs’ index score fell from 68 to 65 and the subscription TV service score fell from 68 to 63.
The proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable will unite the two lowest scoring ISPs and the two that fell the most between the 2013 survey and the 2014 survey. Time Warner’s score fell from 63 to 54 (down 14%) and Comcast’s from 62 to 57 (down 8%).
On the subscription TV side, Time Warner was again the lowest scorer, dropping from 60 a year ago to 56 (down 7%) and Comcast earned the second-worst score, down from 63 to 60 (down 5%).
The two firms also toted up the lowest scores in fixed-line telephone service, which is the third leg of the so-called triple play offerings of Internet service, pay TV and telephone service. Neither Comcast nor Time Warner offers wireless phone service, which is typically part of the triple-play offer from Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). The mind boggles at how low the two companies would score if they offered wireless service.
It is worth pointing out that no pay-TV service improved its score in 2014. As an industry, pay TV scored 68 in 2013 and 63 in 2014. The smallest drop by a single company was 3% for AT&T’s U-verse service, which fell from 71 to 69. DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV), which has agreed to be acquired by AT&T, dropped 4% year-over-year from 72 to 69.
Until 2014, the pay-TV industry’s ACSI scores had improved or remained steady for 11 years running. Last year’s score of 68 was the highest ever, while this year’s score of 63 reverses five years of gains. Anyone expecting the Comcast-Time Warner or AT&T-DirecTV mergers to improve pay TV or ISP service is whistling in the dark. One thing you can rely on, though, is that the lousy service will cost more.