Comcast Needs To Level With Consumers And Business Partners: Unlimited Media Content Will Cost More

Imagine if a cable network group -- Viacom, Discovery, or even an NBC Universal (that is, the company it is today in 2010) -- were to find a way to stuff scores of new cable networks into the slim cable spectrum that's currently available.

This is probably how Comcast feels about Netflix as it continues to increase the number of movies, TV shows, and other content through Comcast's broadband service. All this seems to be part of the reason Level 3, Netflix's online video server partner, is complaining about extra charges from Comcast.

This would seem to be an apples and oranges comparison between old-style cable networks and other content distributors. In the digital space, there are seemingly no limits. No shelf space. But in fact, there is. Comcast says Level 3 is pushing through twice as much content as other similar companies -- and that's not right.



Comcast, of course, finds itself playing both sides of the fence, both as a big video pipe -- old-style cable TV and new-style broadband -- as well as a content provider.

Industry analysts are already snarking that Comcast views Netflix as a growing content/video service competitor -- one that probably has its eye on lowering the already stagnant-to-lower numbers of traditional subscribers on cable systems these days.

Right now, Netflix is mostly a service that streams movies, not TV shows, so there is no real threat to Comcast. But of course, senior media executives get paid to look at the long term.

Netflix is savvy enough to know it takes a decent level of money to lure content providers (Google executives, take note here), and Netflix could do the same for TV as it has done for movies. At possible prices of $7.99, $9.99, or even $24.99 a month? That would be some deal compared to what consumers are paying cable operators now.

Now back to Comcast-Level 3: As a big cable operator, Comcast knows a thing or two about shelf space. But in the digital media landscape, that old-time retail business term gets fuzzy -- especially to consumers who still see the Internet, and growing digital platforms, in a different ways

In part, Comcast and other big media companies are to blame -- marketing to consumers about a brave new digital world where every possible variety of media content can be available in an unlimited playground.

But there's little mention in all this marketing of how much more all this will cost.

1 comment about "Comcast Needs To Level With Consumers And Business Partners: Unlimited Media Content Will Cost More".
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  1. Sheila Seles from Advertising Research Foundation, December 3, 2010 at 2:48 p.m.

    It seems to me that Comcast is more worried about who’s delivering the content (Netflix) than how much content is being delivered. Netflix’s streaming service is inexpensive and easy-to-use, and it’s been integrated into myriad TV sets, game consoles, and DVD players. Netflix has beat the MSOs at their own game—content delivery. Despite being on the market for years, VOD is still clumsy, expensive, and limited. Comcast is rightly threatened by Netflix, but to remain viable as a service provider and avoid becoming a dumb pipe, MSOs have to adapt their business models to reflect the way consumers actually want content.

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