Consumer Reports: Dissatisfaction with Cable TV Remains High As Cord-Cutters Gain Intriguing New Options

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Comcast, Spectrum, Cox among poor performers in CR’s ratings; New streaming services make ‘cord-cutting’ more appealing

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The good news is that there are now more alternatives, so it’s possible for consumers to get the shows and movies they want, often at a lower price than a traditional pay TV plan.

Most pay TV providers continue to do a poor job of leaving their customers feeling like their service is worth the money, according to the latest Consumer Reports ratings. This includes some the country’s largest operators, Comcast, Spectrum (Charter, Time Warner Cable), and Cox Communications Cable, who earned low scores in multiple categories, including value and customer service.

The standouts for TV service in CR’s ratings were EPB Fiber, a municipal broadband service run as a public utility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Google Fiber, a service offered by Google in a handful of markets. Both earned high scores for overall satisfaction, reliability and equipment, and were the only two of the more than 30 providers in the ratings to get better than the lowest score for value. Two smaller cable companies, Armstrong and Consolidated Communications, also did better than most.

“Though consumer dissatisfaction with their cable companies has been simmering for quite some time, it’s now starting to boil over in terms of actual cord-cutting from traditional pay TV providers,” said Jim Willcox, Senior Electronics Editor at Consumer Reports. “The good news is that there are now more alternatives, so it’s possible for consumers to get the shows and movies they want, often at a lower price than a traditional pay TV plan."

There are now several new online streaming services that are designed to replicate a traditional pay-TV package. These include , Direct TV Now, Hulu With Live TV, Sling TV, Sony PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV, all offering cord-cutters unprecedented TV-watching freedom. Hulu With Live TV, for example, offers about 50 channels, including major networks in some areas and sports channels such as CBS Sports, ESPN, and Fox Sports, for a starting price of $40 per month.

The full Consumer Reports ratings of TV, Internet, and bundled service providers, along with a guide to navigating the various cable replacement services, is available at and in the August 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, on newsstands July 29.

Even cord-cutters, however, still need internet access. Google Fiber is the top-rated provider in CR’s ratings, the lone company with Excellent marks for both reliability and value. But in general, fiber providers did better than cable companies, especially larger ones such as Spectrum and Comcast, which were in the bottom half the rankings.

Consumer Reports’ ratings of telecom providers reflect the experiences of subscribers who completed the telecom section of CR’s Fall 2016 Annual Questionnaire. They are based on: 114,107 respondents for TV service providers, 90, 838 for ISPs, and 26,642 for providers of bundled services.

About Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.

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© 2017 Consumer Reports. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports® is an expert, independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to work side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. We accept no advertising and pay for all the products we test. We are not beholden to any commercial interest. Our income is derived from the sale of Consumer Reports® magazine,® and our other publications and information products, services, fees, and noncommercial contributions and grants. Our Ratings and reports are intended solely for the use of our readers. Neither the Ratings nor the reports may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose without our prior written permission. Consumer Reports will take all steps open to it to prevent unauthorized commercial use of its content and trademarks.

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James McQueen
Consumer Reports
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