Are customers satisfied with pay-TV service? Eh, sort of

A new customer service survey shows that American's satisfaction with their pay-TV services hasn't changed in the past year, as improvements in quality-like an increase in the availability of high-definition TV programming-have been muted by rising prices.

The survey, the American Customer Satisfaction Index, gave the pay-TV segment a score of 66, the same as in 2009.

What change there was in the segment was reflected in a jostling for position, as Verizon's (NYSE:VZ) FiOS TV service slipped 1.4 points to 72, remaining the top-ranked service ahead of DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV), which improved 1.5 points to score a 69 and unseated Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) (67 points, after dropping 5.6 points) as the top satellite service. AT&T's (NYSE:T) U-verse dropped 6 points to score a 68.

Bringing up the rear? You guessed it... cable. Cox was flat at 67 points, Charter slipped 1.7 points to 59, Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) slipped 3.3 points to 59, as did Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC).

"Bundling of services such as phone and Internet access may have been both a blessing and a curse for the industry," said Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference. "A couple of years ago, a variety of bundling promotions boosted what people saw as value for money; but now, as many of these promotions have ended, subscribers with bundled services are becoming less satisfied and more concerned about price."

What's really interesting is that the segment hasn't ever scored higher than a 66... last year's 66 points marked a watermark of sorts for the industry; the 4.8 point increase pushed it to its highest rating ever.

Of the information services studied, only newspapers scored lower, an ACSI of 65 this year, than subscription TV.

Among the other information services: Cell phones scored a 75, computer software 78, fixed line phone service 73, motion pictures 73, network/cable TV news 77, and wireless telephone service 71.

The sector as a whole beat only government in overall customer satisfaction.

For more:
- see this release

Related articles:
AT&T U-verse tops customer satisfaction survey
JD Power: AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS lead TV satisfaction
AT&T's Internet usage penalties a potential black eye