It’s hard to sign a contract with a TV provider when you have only package pricing and channel counts to guess at what your experience will be like. That’s why every year we at CableTV.com survey paid-TV customers across the nation to get detailed information on how they feel about their providers.

We surveyed customers on what we consider to be the five most important areas of customer satisfaction and asked them whether they take advantage of bundling perks.

Overall Customer Satisfaction
How satisfied are you with your TV provider’s installation and setup?
How satisfied are you with your TV package’s channel selection?
How satisfied are you with your TV provider’s signal reliability?
How satisfied are you with your TV provider’s monthly bill?
How satisfied are you with your TV provider’s technical support and customer service?
Do you bundle TV service with your provider’s internet and/or phone services?

This year we saw a rise in customer satisfaction across the board. Fiber TV providers led the way, likely thanks to fiber optics’ speed-of-light technology. Cable TV providers and satellite TV providers had mixed results, but again, all the providers scored higher in satisfaction than they did in the year before.

Here’s the rundown of providers by service type:

  • Fiber: AT&T U-verse, Frontier FiOS
  • Cable: Optimum, RCN, Cox, Suddenlink, Mediacom, Xfinity, Spectrum
  • Satellite: DISH, DIRECTV

Read on to get the results for each provider along with detailed information on what may have pushed the best TV providers to the top spot.

Overall Customer Satisfaction

Which TV company keeps its customers the happiest? Based on the averages of our results, AT&T U-verse, Frontier FiOS, CenturyLink Prism, Optimum, and RCN customers are the most likely to be satisfied with their TV provider experience.

2018 TV Provider Customer Satisfaction Results

2018’s Best in Overall Customer Satisfaction: AT&T U-verse

#1

ATT-logo

4.11 Stars (4.11 / 5)

Not only did AT&T U-verse have the best overall score, it also topped every category in customer satisfaction. This fiber-based service does provide the most channels on the market, but it may have been the little things that pushed it over the top.

AT&T U-verse services come with included equipment, which means its customers enjoy its DVR service without any extra fees. Installation is also included at no extra cost, and monthly charges have decreased over the past year. Plus, it’s hard to beat fiber service for reliability since it’s unsusceptible to weather outages.

All in all, customers agree there’s a lot to love about AT&T U-verse. If you want to give it a try, we recommend the U-family package because it’s packed with family-friendly channels for only $35.00 per month.

Remember, not all packages and providers are available in all areas, so use our Zip Finder to check if it’s available near you.

Overall Least Improved: Spectrum 

While Spectrum had average customer satisfaction scores in 2017 and even improved on those scores this year, it still ended up with the lowest scores in this year’s survey.

Spectrum Logo

3.47 Stars (3.47 / 5)

This change is most likely due to a few flubs in making the full transition to Spectrum. Many customers who used to be with Time Warner Cable or Bright House Networks were caught off guard with the transition when Charter Communications bought out both companies.

After the transition, Spectrum not only changed its channel lineups but also recently encrypted its transmissions. Encrypting transmissions is common practice in the TV industry because it helps fight signal theft. But the change meant some Spectrum customers had to go through the trouble of getting a new cable box to decrypt the signal.

Despite these troubles, let’s not forget that Spectrum’s overall score has improved from last year. So while these issues have been a problem for some existing customers, they shouldn’t trouble new Spectrum customers. With the newly normalized pricing and channel lineups, signing up with Spectrum should be a clearer and simpler process than it was last year.

Installation and Setup

How satisfied are you with your TV provider’s installation and setup?

2018 TV Provider Installation and Setup Customer Satisfaction Results

2018’s Best in Customer Satisfaction for Installation and Setup: AT&T U-verse, RCN, and Optimum

#1

ATT-logo

4.26 Stars (4.26 / 5)

#2

RCN Logo

4.12 Stars (4.12 / 5)

#3

Optimum Logo

4.11 Stars (4.11 / 5)

Although installation and setup are only a small part of the overall experience with a TV provider, your first experience can color your relationship with the company for much longer. The top performers in this section all get off on the right foot with their customers by providing an excellent first experience with the company.

  • AT&T U-verse doesn’t charge an installation fee and charges only a $35 activation fee.
  • RCN keeps its installation period within a two-hour window and offers a $20 credit if its technicians are late.
  • Optimum offers free installation when you order online.

How much does TV installation cost?

Depending on your provider and the package you choose, installation may be included at no extra cost, or it may cost up to $100. If you’re hoping to get your installation fee waived, your best bet is to bundle TV with internet—many providers waive installation fees when you bundle.

Channel Selection

How satisfied are you with your TV package’s channel selection?

2018 TV Provider Channel Selection Customer Satisfaction Results

2018’s Best in Customer Satisfaction for Channel Selection: AT&T U-verse, DISH, and Suddenlink

#1

ATT-logo

4.22 Stars (4.22 / 5)

#2

Dish Logo

3.99 Stars (3.99 / 5)

#3

Suddenlink Logo

3.97 Stars (3.97 / 5)

While most TV providers advertise channel counts and some show in-depth channel lineups, sometimes adding channel perks leads to higher customer satisfaction than raising channel counts alone. Things like on-demand libraries, free premium channels, and a powerful DVR can play a big role in customer satisfaction.

  • When it comes to sheer channel count, AT&T U-verse takes the cake with over 550 channels, including all the HD channels available.
  • DISH makes up for its low HD channel count by offering the best DVR on the market, the Hopper 3.
  • Suddenlink boasts a large on-demand library and offers SHOWTIME® and Netflix for a year when new customers bundle TV with internet.

A Matter of Taste:

We were surprised to see some of the highest-ranking providers in channel selection satisfaction from last year lagging this year. For example, DIRECTV and Xfinity have dropped behind the competition despite DIRECTV’s high HD channel count and access to NFL SUNDAY TICKET and Xfinity’s massive on-demand library.

When choosing a new provider, always be sure to check the channel lineup of your package to make sure you’re getting all the channels you want.

Signal Reliability

How satisfied are you with your TV provider’s signal reliability?

2018 TV Provider Signal Reliability Customer Satisfaction Results

2018’s Best in Customer Satisfaction for Signal Reliability: AT&T U-verse, Optimum, and RCN

#1

ATT-logo

4.18 Stars (4.18 / 5)

#2

Optimum Logo

4.13 Stars (4.13 / 5)

#3

RCN Logo

4.12 Stars (4.12 / 5)

No one wants their television cutting out during their favorite show. With this question, our surveyed customers told us whether they’ve experienced frequent signal loss.

AT&T U-verse and some RCN networks use a hybrid system that includes advanced fiber optics to deliver a strong signal, while Optimum and many other RCN networks rely on traditional coaxial cable but still deliver a notably reliable signal.

Why is fiber more reliable?

Because of the high speeds at which fiber transfers data, it has a reputation for being the most reliable service type currently available. Buried underground, fiber-optic cables send digital information in the form of light, which is incredibly fast and efficient.

While satellite is still a great way to get TV—especially in rural areas that don’t have access to fiber—satellite dishes occasionally struggle when inclement weather disrupts their signals coming to and from the geosynchronous satellite. And the nature of fiber’s transmission makes it immune to the congestion that sometimes comes with cable.

Monthly Bill

How satisfied are you with your TV provider’s monthly bill?

2018 TV Provider Monthly Bill Customer Satisfaction Results

2018’s Best in Customer Satisfaction for Monthly Bill: AT&T U-verse, Frontier FiOS, and RCN

#1

ATT-logo

3.83 Stars (3.83 / 5)

#2

Frontier Logo

3.73 Stars (3.73 / 5)

#3

RCN Logo

3.63 Stars (3.63 / 5)

It’s tough to balance a strong channel count and great features with a reasonable price tag, but the top scorers in monthly bill satisfaction have managed to do just that.

  • This year, AT&T U-verse lowered its prices after cutting the extra mini clients it used to offer with its packages. Mini clients are necessary for connecting additional TVs to a DVR, so this price drop is especially good for people who don’t have a lot of TVs at home.
  • Although Frontier FiOS packages can be a bit pricier than AT&T U-verse’s (Frontier FiOS runs $75 –$98 per month, while U-verse packages are $35–$110 per month), it still has some great channel counts at an affordable price.
  • If you’re tired of billing surprises, RCN is refreshingly transparent with its monthly bill and even lowers prices in areas where its less expensive to operate.

Why are there extra charges on my TV bill?

Charges beyond the advertised pricing are often due to equipment fees and taxes. Many providers don’t include cable boxes or DVRs in their pricing, so your pricing will be affected by which equipment you choose when you sign up.

Additional charges like broadcast and sports fees are also common and can vary based on your provider, package, and location. If you don’t want to be blindsided, check the fine print on your plan to get a better idea of what those additional charges will be.

And finally, don’t forget that advertised pricing is almost always promotional pricing for new customers. It will usually last a year or two, depending on the provider. Be sure to find out how long your promotional pricing lasts so you can negotiate discounts or move to another provider when it ends.

Tech Support and Customer Service

How satisfied are you with your TV provider’s technical support and customer service?

2018 TV Provider Tech Support and Customer Service Customer Satisfaction Results

2018’s Best in Customer Satisfaction for Tech Support and Customer Service: AT&T U-verse, Frontier FiOS, and Optimum

#1

ATT-logo

4.06 Stars (4.06 / 5)

#2

Frontier Logo

4.05 Stars (4.05 / 5)

#3

Optimum Logo

4.00 Stars (4.00 / 5)

Whether it’s waiting on hold for an hour or experiencing a breakdown in communication with an overseas call center, tech support and customer service for cable companies can be fraught with challenges. We applaud the top scorers in this area for breaking that stereotype.

  • Call during normal business hours and you’ll be directed to one of AT&T U-verse’s many domestic call centers.
  • Instead of waiting on hold while listening to frustrating elevator music, Frontier FiOS lets you schedule a time for a customer service representative to call you.
  • RCN welcomes you to reach out with your questions via a variety of social media platforms.
  • AT&T, Frontier, and RCN all offer a live online chat feature.

Avoid the Call:

While not every provider has the features AT&T U-verse, Frontier FiOS, and RCN offer, almost every TV provider has a detailed FAQ and troubleshooting section on its website. Rather than picking up your phone when there’s a problem, try finding the answers online first.

Bundling Services

Do you bundle TV service with your provider’s internet and/or phone services?

2018 TV Provider Bundling Trends

2018’s Most Likely to Bundle: Cox, Xfinity, and Optimum

Pro Tip: We highly recommend bundling your TV with internet service. It’s a great way to save money on both services and saves you the hassle of dealing with two separate providers.

Plus, if you’re someone who uses both internet and TV at home, bundling those services with the same provider can give you access to incredible savings and perks.

For instance, Cox offers higher channel counts with its bundles than with its stand-alone TV packages. Or if you bundle with Xfinity, you can get certain premium channels like HBO®, STARZ®, CINEMAX®, and SHOWTIME® included free for a year.

Please note that DISH wasn’t included in the chart above because while some internet providers offer bundles with DISH, the TV provider doesn’t offer its own internet services, so it lacks the same bundling options as other TV providers.

Notable Changes in the Past Year

The Spectrum Merger Is Complete

Spectrum Logo

Although Charter purchased Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Bright House back in 2015, it’s taken until 2017 to fully launch the merged brand, Spectrum. Before the merger was complete, Spectrum kept some of TWC’s and Bright House Network’s old channel offerings and pricing for established customers.

As we discussed above, the complete move to Spectrum caught some customers off guard. The changes involved not only channel lineups and monthly charges but also newly encrypted signals that required new equipment, forcing many customers to shell out extra cash to continue watching.

We’ll keep you updated about any further changes from Spectrum in the coming months as it settles into these new changes and its customers continue to adjust.

CenturyLink Prism is No More

CenturyLink Prism Logo

You may have noticed we didn’t include CenturyLink Prism in this year’s survey for customer satisfaction. Starting this year, CenturyLink will no longer offer its Prism TV service. It will now offer only DIRECTV to bundle with its internet service.

Because of this change, we’ve removed CenturyLink from our results this year. If you’re considering bundling with CenturyLink, check out DIRECTV’s customer satisfaction responses for a better idea of the service you’ll receive.

Buckeye Broadband Goes Big

Buckeye Broadband Logo

Due to Buckeye Broadband’s continued growth as a TV provider, CableTV.com will be covering it in greater detail in the future. We hope our upcoming in-depth reviews about Buckeye Broadband will be a helpful resource to our followers in Ohio.

Methodology Reminder

This survey is intended to give insight only into how customers feel about their TV providers. It is purely based on opinion, and the results may not reflect all objective facts about the TV providers.

We at CableTV.com believe it’s important to gauge annually how the public feels about its TV providers. This year we used Pollfish to survey 1,300 TV customers across the nation. The ratings we’ve reported here have not been influenced by CableTV.com, although we have made mention of areas where we saw interesting discrepancies from past years’ results.

Conclusions

Although there was a general upward trend in results this year, there was also a wide range of scores. In the end, AT&T U-verse swept the competition with top marks in all five categories.

But if you’re looking for good customer satisfaction with internet as well as TV, Optimum, Suddenlink, and Cox are all above-average TV providers in customer satisfaction with above-average bundling rates.

Want to see which of the best TV providers are available in your area? Enter your zip code in our tool below to find out what’s near you.

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