For the last six years Consumer Union's Consumerist.com, which takes on all consumers issues big and small, has run its Worst Company in America tournament, with consumers voting online. Last year Comcast was the big "winner."
Comcast is on the list again this year, the same Comcast that became the official majority owner of NBC Universal a couple of months ago. But we know what's going on here. Consumerist is taking on the company for those legendary cable customer service issues that have been comedy fodder for late night comedians and others.
Other programming retailers -- Time Warner, Charter Communications, DirecTV, Dish Network -- are listed as potential "worst" companies, as well as hybrid phone/video programming brands AT&T and Verizon.
But not one TV network? Is that really fair? Are we all happy with the 'consumer' service and experience of Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC, as well as some cable networks. All are highly known consumer brands.
Perhaps Consumerist feels other polls and surveys take care of consumers' appreciation or disappointment with those brands - namely, The Nielsen Company's TV ratings.
Still, national advertisers would tell you that Nielsen ratings aren't the whole story -- there are intangibles, and "engagement" with TV brands is equally important, if not more so. Of course, it may not be "Fox" or "NBC" or "ABC" that consumers have trouble with. It may be "Running Wilde," "The Event" or "Detroit 1-8-7."
Consumerist.com's competition has 32 companies competing in a series of rounds where consumers vote for the worst companies. To be fair, Consumerist has been somewhat fun and sarcastic in its missives about the "tournament." The prize for the worst company is the "Golden Poo" award.
In the early rounds, similar companies get pitted against each other -- Bank of America vs. Citibank, United Airlines/Continental vs. Delta, Apple vs. Microsoft. Some rounds have already been completed: DirecTV "won" against Dish Network, 57% to 42%. Time Warner beat Facebook, 53% to 47%.
Coming later will be Comcast against Charter Communications. Comcast has reportedly been aggressive in its efforts not to repeat as "champs", asking its employees to vote for Charter to win the contest. Some have taken Comcast to task for these efforts to stuff the ballot box, so to speak.
I say phooey. If the broadcast networks were battling against each other, they would use much bigger --- and more entertaining marketing efforts -- to take out the competition.
Don't believe me? As evidence, look at those high-volume, sometimes over-the-top TV promos! Think of trash-talking from the casts of NBC's "30 Rock" vs. CBS' "How I Met Your Mother," or ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" vs. Fox's "House." Poo on you!