Commentary

Most Consumers Satisfied Enough With Pay-TV Providers

Most consumers don’t have a huge interest in switching pay-TV providers -- and even though they’re well aware of over-the-top options, those choices aren’t luring them to make huge changes in services, according to a second-quarter marketplace survey from Digitalsmiths, a video discovery platform.

The company found in its trends report than 7.7% of respondents had switched pay-TV providers in the last three months, representing only a 1.7% increase over last year.

What’s more, about 14.9% of respondents said they plan to make changes in the next six months, down slightly from the year before. Looking at how that breaks down, 4.5% said they’ll cut service, 8.1% plan to change providers, and 2.3% say they’ll switch to an online or rental service.

Overall, more than 75% of pay-TV customers say they are satisfied with their service. The number that claim to be unhappy is up slightly, due in part to increases in fees for cable and Internet service, respondents said. In terms of what consumers want most from pay TV, the answer is nearly universal: About 80% said they’d be interested in an a la carte package of networks, and that ideally such an offering would include about 17 to 18 channels.

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The survey also found that TV Everywhere isn’t widely used. While 24% of survey respondents have their multichannel provider’s TV Everywhere app, about 45% use it regularly. That translates into about 11% using TV Everywhere on a weekly basis.

These findings are useful in underscoring the work that pay-TV providers still need to do to elevate consumer satisfaction, but also indicate that for the most part it’s business as usual even in the face of OTT competition.

Many of those OTT consumers are watching TV shows online on tablets. A study from Hub Research found that among consumers 16 to 64 who watch some TV online, half are using tablets to watch shows (up from 36% a year ago), more than a third are using a smartphone (up from 30%), and 71% watch TV shows on an Internet-connected TV (up from 62%).

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