Comcast On Netflix And Not Sucking

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Comcast is a massive force in the TV industry. I mean, they’re everywhere including owning a controlling stack in NBCUniversal. What’s more is that they’re in an absurd amount of homes and business across the US. As Comcast goes, so goes home entertainment. As many large companies though, they’re a massive lumber beast and slow to react to market shifts and trends. That’s why their main cable boxes look the same as they did five years ago while smaller companies with different distrubation plans such as Dish Network can quickly roll out swanky features like Google TV.

Mr. Comcast, CEO Brian Roberts, is touring around this fine country on a bit of mission. Among a broad message that includes a big push for the company’s On Demand service, it seems he wants people to know Comcast has this fancy new thing called an iPad app.

ZDnet quotes him at a Morgan Stanley conference talking about this app and the company’s focus on connectivity,

Let’s switch now to the screen and you can start here, this is a regular iPad. It’s authenticated once. So it knows that it is Philadelphia cable customer — this is our head of investor, Marlene’s, cable. So if I picked a channel — let’s pick CNN — if I click it, it will say at the top — and it depends what network you’re on — this is running on WiFi in the hotel so hopefully it will be pretty good. But that’s another thing that came together, which is WiFi in all of our homes. We’re now putting WiFi in every new cable modem we put out there.

So the last foot, in my opinion, wants to be wireless with the latest and greatest device. But you need a wireless connection to get the best broadband experience. And that is what we offer in people’s homes.

Sounds about right. The app works great and is hopefully hints at what the cable giant has in store down the road. But the man also brought up Netflix when talking to Bloomberg. Uh-oh.

What we have successfully done is created a user interface that is every bit as good [as Netflix]. It will get better over time. We now have more content. We spend $7.5 billion a year procuring content, so we should be able to have those kind of rights, both library rights, and more importantly, live here and now rights and I think you will see a lot of innovation this year from Comcast.

As both a Comcast and Netflix sub, Comcast does have a good deal of content, but the interface and user experience is no where near as satisfying. The UI hasn’t changed…ever. It’s still the slow and tedious system as when it first rolled out. Content is king, sure, but I can’t be the only person instantly turned off by a bad experience. However, Comcast’s huge install base gives them the liberty of doing whatever the hell they want. There’s no need to innovate or WOW customers when a feature such as On Demand is simply provided alongside current cable services. It’s there, it’s free, so people are going to use it.

Mr. Roberts is expected to be on more talk shows before too long. Comcast is out to show they have the goods people want.