Comcast VOD: Closer To A Clearer Picture, But Still A Long Way To Go

Hulu couldn't do what Comcast's TV-based video-on-demand can: Offer current programs from all the broadcasting networks (including CBS, which Hulu doesn't have).

Mind you, it isn't all current TV shows. Comcast's Xfinity TV On Demand service will have 32 of the top 50 network prime-time programs. And, as with other services, Comcast will offer only a few recent episodes -- four in Xfinity's case, as compared with five with Hulu.

An interesting sidebar is that Comcast remains an equity partner in Hulu. But Xfinity is different, since Hulu is still predominantly an Internet service. Making matters more complicated, Comcast also has an Internet service.

Why all the effort around just TV distribution? According to one Comcast executive, viewers like to watch "TV shows on TV." Hey, that's a refreshing and simple concept.



This may seem like a half-step to the promised land of pure video-on-demand for every TV show on every receiving device known to viewers. Yet, right now, for those not completely digital savvy, for those with traditional Comcast cable service, this makes sense.

With all the complicated stuff thrown at consumers, many people look to clarity. Comcast is trying to get to that.

To my mind, Apple and its array of products -- iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, iMac, for example -- are marketed for that entertainment 'clarity' -- especially when presented on calming, easy-to-look-at white backgrounds with simple, easy-to-access functions.

Now that Comcast is the only cable company offering current programs from all networks on a VOD basis, it would do well to build on its simple, easy-to-understand message.

TV Everywhere? That's another matter, and not something consumers can entirely get their heads around right now. TV Everywhere gives Comcast customers free access to on any web-based device -- similar, but not exactly the same as its Xfinity TV On Demand service.

Looking for those new digital clear entertainment services messages will keep consumers' minds from swimming in old-style TV static, which, in 2011, is still around.

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