Comcast Corporation, the U.S.’s largest Multiple System Operator (MSO), or company that owns multiple telecommunications systems that offers communications services, boasted over 22 million basic video subscribers in 2010, according to the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA). The company provides cable, internet and telephone service in the United States through a subdivision called Xfinity. Comcast’s competitors include: DirecTV (over 18 million subscribers), Dish Network Corporation (over 14 million subscribers), Time Warner Cable, Inc. (over 12 million subscribers).
So why do so many people prefer Comcast over its competitors? What sets them apart? Let’s take a look at Comcast versus DirecTV, its top competitor. According to Comcast’s website, they offer more On Demand and HD choices than DirecTV, and offer the fastest internet speeds and 24/7 live customer support, which DirecTV does not. Being that these are all Comcast’s claims, let’s see what each company’s customers have to say.
I noticed a couple of trends in the different blogs and forums that discuss these competing companies. One trend had to do with customer care. Despite boasting 24/7 live customer support, many of Comcast’s customers are thoroughly dissatisfied with the service they receive. In fact, 5,470 people voted on the question, “Which one makes you want to impale yourself on your old rabbit ear antenna? Which company is worse?” A whopping 83.51% said Comcast was the worse company with regard to consumer care, while only 16.49% said that DirecTV was. While this may seem like a trivial online survey, I believe that customer care is a very important aspect of a company. Then what is it about Comcast that makes them number one? I think their key to success lies within their wide variety of services. DirecTV only offers television and audio services, while Comcast offers the triple play (high-speed internet access, television, and telephone services, all over one broadband connection). So, although the customer service may not be up to par, Comcast does make it easier on their customers by offering the whole gamut of goodies, instead of requiring them go to other companies for their other needs. Despite being more expensive than their competitors as well, sometimes it’s worth paying the price for convenience.
Comcast Corporation has had a significant presence in the news with its recent joint venture with General Electric to purchase the NBC news channel. The $30 billion transaction gives Comcast a 51% stake in NBC with GE owning 31%. GE will continue to manage NBC’s cable networks, film and tv entertainment, theme parks, and investments while Comcast will maintain the company’s NYC headquarters and contribute its cable networks, regional sports networks and certain digital media properties. Customers are actively speaking out and are concerned with the power that Comcast is going to have over the pricing of digital media, especially NBC channels. An article in the NY Times on the 27th discussed the takeover and what the restructuring would mean for the visual attributes of the company – specifically the NBC peacock which was less that visible at the announcement party. Fans of both companies assaulted the message board, stating their displeasure with the potential loss of the iconic logo, pleading with the companies not to drop such a recognizable symbol of American televised media.
Comcast also announced earlier this month that they would allow streaming of live TV to Apple’s iPad, creating another viewing screen for the house. Since customers are already paying for access it makes perfect sense, and users commenting on the article responded positively and with increased interest in the new access capabilities provided by the television provider.
In local news, users are thrilled to finally receive XFINITY Internet 2go in Colorado today, which is Comcast’s new high-speed wireless data service. “Colorado is known for being a state that embraces technology, and having 4G and 3G service with blazing fast Internet speeds is evidence to that fact,” said Rich Jennings, Regional Vice President, Comcast Mile High Region. “Comcast continues to drive innovation in the market whether it’s with video, voice, the Internet or now wireless — all for the ultimate benefit of customers.”
I decided to research the MSO Comcast because it is a service that I use and felt that it would be the most interesting to look at a company, which I am directly interested. Comcast Corporation is a company that offers cable, Internet and telephone services. It also has large stock holdings in many broadcasting stations such as E! Entertainment, Style Network, The Golf Channel and most recently NBC Universal. The buying of 51% of NBC Universal’s stock share is what was talked about most in the blogs and forums I read.
The latest news within the Comcast Organization is that the company has bought the majority of shares of NBC Universal. This deal has been in action for the last two years and finally went to the FCC this January. On February 18, 2011 the FCC granted the companies permission to create the joint venture between Comcast Corporation and NBC Universal. With this merger of companies there comes many opinions of whether or not this was the right choice. The reviews seem to be mixed, there is one side that says this will lead to more competition between other cable providers and television networks allowing for more innovation and the capital to back this up. The other side is saying that this is going to lead to higher fixed prices of two companies that are stuck in their old ways.
In the many blogs and comments I read it seems that most people in the public are taking the side that this will not be a good thing. People seem to be very concerned about how much power this will give Comcast Corporation to raise prices not only for customers but also raise the price of having NBC on other cable providers. None of this has been done yet there is just concern being voiced through these blogs. It was also mentioned that under Comcast the NBC Universal will drop the always recognizable NBC colorful peacock and Universal spinning globe in its corporate logo. This is still a very new merger and we will just have to wait and see what the outcome of this will be.
After doing some research on some of the top cable MSOs I found some pretty interesting information. According to The National Cable & Telecommunications Association the list of the Top 25 multichannel video programming distributors is really know surprise at least in the top 5 that is. Comcast Corporation also associated with XFINITY ranks number one with 22,937,000 subscribers, DirectTv is second with 18,934,000 subscribers, Dish Network is third with 14,289,000 subscribers, Time Warner Cable is fourth with 12,551,000 subscribers, and Cox Communications is fifth with 4,968,000. This information was last updated in September 2010 so some numbers by now could have increased or decreased but for every chart I looked at the rankings have been the same. As you can see from the numbers the top four companies really have separated themselves from the rest of the other 20 competitors. After the top four you don’t see a drastic change in the number of subscribers.
I wanted to turn my focus on Comcast since they were at the top of the charts. I wanted to find some background information on why people preferred Comcast over the competition which I mainly focused on Direct TV since they are in second. XFINITY outplays DirecTV by having the most live sports including more local sports, over 3,500 live games on ESPN3.com and channels like NFL Network, NFL RedZone, MLB Network and Versus. This is a big on for me since I am a big sports fan. They also offer true On Demand. DirecTV satellite has On Delay, which means you have to download movies to your DVR, which can take who knows how long, using either an Internet connection or a phone line. With On Demand from XFINITY, you can download movies and TV shows instantly. I have had both of these providers and I can say that I do prefer Comcast over DirectTV one because it is faster and two because I feel it is easier to use and understand.
Another focus point was that I thought was important was the Internet speed. DirecTV doesn’t offer high speed Internet service. They tie you to your phone company so that most likely you will have DSL connection which can sometimes be a pain. XFINITY offers the “fastest Internet speeds” or so they say obviously a bias statement because they do want their product to be appealing. But I can say that Comcast internet package is good just might be a bit too expensive.
Comcast Corporation was the number one MSO (Mulitple System Operator) in the year 2008, with 24,182,000 subscribers. Comcast is the majority owner NBCUniversal, which operates news and entertainment networks such as NBC, Telemundo, and local news networks. Comcast is also an Internet and phone provider. In keeping with current trends, Comcast offers HD, DVR, On Demand, Pay Per View, special sports channels, and is affiliated with Xfinitytv.com. All these features boost Comcast into the digital age and allow customers to receive a personalized cable television experience. Comcast is in direct competition with DirectTV, Verizon FIOS, and AT&T. The Comcast website even has a “Compare vs. the Competition” feature, where customers can make sure they are receiving the best in cable provider options.
In this feature, the website assures that it has the fastest Internet connection (when compared with DirecTV). However, the first article on Yahoo!Answers complains about Comcast internet not working correctly. There are several suggestions from other Comcast users, all with the final line, “I had the same problem.” A major complaint seems to be that Comcast is very expensive, and the cheapest option, the “Economy” package, offers very few channels and amenities. Also, Comcast is the only Internet and cable provider in many areas, so it almost forces people to spend a lot of money. About.com says that Comcast lost 270,000 cable subscribers in the last part of 2010. It suggests that users are switching away from an expensive monthly bill to a reduced rate online.
I have personally had trouble with Comcast as a cable provider. Before college, I always had Dish Network, but DU uses Comcast. A minor complaint is that the basic package that DU provides does not have a guide, which is a convenient feature of Dish. A bigger problem was that I did not have cable for a month and a half. Suddenly, the channels stopped working, most saying “This channel is temporarily not available. Call Comcast.” My TV was the only one experiencing this issue, so I thought maybe I had done something to break it. However, when the Comcast workers finally came to fix it, they said that this is a frequent complaint and a result of a faulty cable box.
In spite of the 9/11 attacks, I believe that the government should have the ability to restrict the media, if and only if, it could affect national security. Media regulation today is one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish, especially given our nation’s advancement in technology. Anyone with access to a computer can upload whatever information they please to the internet which makes it very difficult to regulate.
Events such as the airtstrike video that Bradley Manning leaked should be censored from the general public. Imagine if you were a family member of either the pilots or the journalists; is that something you would want the world to see? Releasing videos such as that one may cause citizens to lose faith in the government and our national defense. The government isn’t perfect and does make mistakes at times. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 continues to uphold the requirement of the media serving in the “public interest, convenience, and necessity,” and this is not clearly defined. The release of such a video (or one similar), in my opinion, does not meet the public convenience or necessity.
With an increase in regulation on the media for the benefit of our national security, people may feel that their First Amendment rights are being violated. No one is ever 100% satisfied, and sacrifices must be made for the interest of our national security. The FCC’s job is to regulate the media, whether it’s for television ratings, censoring profanities, or cutting out a program that may be found as offensive. For all of the radicals who feel that the media shouldn’t be regulated period, why does the FCC regulate offensive language? They allow you to bash the government as you please. The FCC should only step in and regulate the media when it’s a potential threat to national security.
The shield laws mean well. But if what the journalist publishes from a “confidential source” is related to a potential threat to our nation, then the shield laws should be voided and the journalist prosecuted unless the source is revealed. Any media that could be potentially threatening to our national security should not be published or viewed by the general public. First Amendment rights only go to the point where national security is involved.
After reading chapter six, learning about photography, movies, and television, Pavlik ends the chapter talking about three primary means of distributing TV programs. They include broadcasting, cable, and direct-to-home satellite. The most common way Americans get television signals is through cable. Comcast is the number one cable TV MSO in the United States as reported in 2008. Comcast has almost doubled Time Warner’s numbers of subscribers. However, Comcast does have some downfalls to their ever expanding company as we find on some popular online discussions.
On wordpress.com a customer with a black and white picture of a man in his 50’s or so has repeatedly said “Comcast sucks” in his blog. He was having troubles signing up an account online – he said he spent 45 minutes – and decided to give up and make a blog about his feelings.
Another blog titled Comcast on wordpress.com speaks of the inconsiderate four-hour block Comcast will give a customer for an IT worker to come look and fix the T.V. This consumer is complaining that the last thing he wants to do on the weekend is wait at his house for Comcast. He values friends, errands, and his personal life much more than Comcast. His idea? Minimize the window of time Comcast is able to come and fix the T.V.
Ruby has commented on Google Groups about his dissatisfaction of the company and has taken the extreme to drop Comcast and switch back to Dish Network. He comments on the price he is now paying with Dish, which is half the price he was paying for Comcast.
Overall, we understand that Comcast is the leader in the Cable TV MSO’s in the United States, however, it would be wise of Comcast to improve their customer service in order to better attract customers. This would also prevent Comcast from losing customers.