Customer satisfaction with US subscription TV services was more or less unchanged in 2010, a year after surging to an all-time high. A look under the covers shows some changes in category leaders, however, with cable coming in dead last.

According to the survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) Verizonís FiOS dropped 1% in customer service, but is still the industry leader, at 72. DIRECTV is next at 69 (+1%), recapturing the satellite lead from DISH Network, which fell a whopping 6 %. AT&Tís U-verse, Verizonís fibre-optic competitor, dropped 6% also, to 68. Customer complaints about picture quality, particularly for HD channels, have increased, as AT&T grapples with bandwidth challenges across several of its telecommunications services.

Cox Communications remains the highest-scoring cable provider (unchanged at 67), well above the other three cable companies. Comcast, Time Warner and Charter Communications all dropped and are tied at the bottom of the industry with ACSI scores of 59.

While quality is up, ASCI says higher fees are making it tough for pay-TV operators to gain more ground.

"Bundling of services such as phone and Internet access may have been both a blessing and a curse for the industry," said Fornell. "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."