A number of Comcast users noticed this morning that the channel NBC has disappeared from the programming guide on their TV – an odd and unfortunately timed glitch on Election Day here in the U.S. Many have been complaining on Twitter about the problem, posting screenshots that show the channel’s disappearance while tweeting at Comcast-run Twitter accounts for answers.
The company tells TechCrunch that the problem was due to a glitch with its programming guide.
According to a Comcast spokesperson:
“Earlier today, a few TV channels in some markets were temporarily unavailable. We received inaccurate data from the vendor who provides our programming guide data, which caused this temporary interruption. The vendor has corrected this, and most channels have already been restored. We expect any remaining channels to be available momentarily. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working with the vendor to prevent this from happening again.”
We understand that this problem began overnight, though the exact time has yet to be determined. One Twitter user posted around 3 AM EST, asking his local Maine area station where the channel went.
The @ComcastCares Twitter account confirmed the problem around 5 AM EST, noting that engineers were aware of an issue that caused some local channels to go missing, and said it would update when the problem was resolved.
The issue didn’t impact all Comcast customers, only those in select markets, including parts of the Northeast, Florida, a small part of California and some in the central U.S.
NBC wasn’t the only channel affected, either – only the most high-profile one. Other channels that disappeared included some broadcast affiliates and independent channels.
The issue was due to inaccurate data sent to Comcast by one of its vendors who provide the information for its programming guide. The vendor itself hasn’t yet determined what caused the issue on its end – it could be technical or even human error.
But the problem was, basically, a data glitch, and not a heavy-handed contract negotiation ploy that providers sometimes engage in, as Time Warner did by pulling Disney-owned ABC over a decade ago.
However, the timing itself is unfortunate, given it’s Election Day in the U.S., and Comcast/NBC Universal has even been the subject of Trump’s speeches in recent days.
Comcast serves 22.4 million pay TV subscribers in the U.S., but the issue only impacted a subset of those customers.
The missing channels are now coming back online, and the problem should be resolved in minutes for the remaining impacted customers.