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Dish Beats DirecTV on Overall Customer Satisfaction on National Survey for First Time in 13 Years

Dish Network edged out rival DirecTV to capture the No. 1 spot on J.D. Power’s annual pay-TV customer-satisfaction survey on a nationwide basis — the first time since 2005 that Dish came out on top.

On the 2018 survey, Dish turned in an average score of 753 (on a 1,000-point scale) across four regions measured by J.D. Power, up 3.2% versus last year. Dish ranked highest in the North Central (with a score of 754) and West (749) regions, while AT&T/DirecTV turned in the No. 1 scores in the East (767) and South (765) regions.

AT&T/DirecTV also improved overall on the J.D. Power customer-satisfaction index, to an average score of 751 (up 2.7% from 731 a year ago). The U.S.’s two biggest cable operators — Comcast and Charter Communications — boosted their average pay-TV customer-sat scores but remained below the industry average of 731, with Comcast Xfinity at 717 and Charter’s Spectrum at 713.

Dish credited its strong showing on the 2018 J.D. Power study on its “Tuned In to You” marketing campaign, launched in early 2017 under CMO Jay Roth, which highlighted steps the company took to beef up customer service and drive value for TV customers. The earnest and empathetic messaging in the campaign was aimed at stemming the subscriber exodus from Dish’s satellite TV service.

True, the company has continued to shed satellite customers amid a broader erosion in traditional pay-TV sector. So here’s another explanation for the higher year-over-year scores in the pay-TV sector: Customers who were the most dissatisfied have already cut the cord, in a shift to over-the-top video services — including Dish’s own Sling TV.

For the second quarter of 2018, Dish dropped a net 192,000 satellite TV customers, to stand at 10.65 million. That’s down from a peak of 14.1 million four years earlier. It gained 41,000 subscribers for Sling TV during most recent quarter period, for 2.34 million total as of the end of June.

J.D. Power’s 17th annual ranking of wireline and TV providers is based on survey responses of 27,765 U.S. customers of cable and satellite TV, high-speed internet and phone service providers. The surveys were fielded in four waves: November 2017, January-February 2018, April-May 2018, and July 2018.

The TV portion of the J.D. Power study measures customer satisfaction across six factors: network performance and reliability; cost; billing; communication; customer service; and programming.

Correction: An earlier version of this story, based in information from Dish Network, incorrectly reported that the company’s No. 1 ranking on the J.D. Power 2018 pay-TV survey was for the first in its history. In fact, Dish was the top-scoring pay-TV provider on the research firm’s 2005 survey.

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