Comcast Hopes To Win Back Cord Cutters, But Failure Is Inevitable

Toni Matthews

When Comcast is no more, the company will likely be remembered as an organization that mistakenly thought a monopoly on cable service would allow it to endure. Some may fault the company’s demise on poor customer service.

In the end, a retrospect review of Comcast will find that it choked to death on its own greed, its limp, lifeless body will have been found at the scene of its own demise. Perhaps, it will be found reaching desperately for the one thing it felt would hold off the inevitable: “Web TV” and internet streaming services.

According to a report by Fortune, Comcast first touted its upcoming streaming service to analysts during its announcement of quarterly earnings. Simply called Stream, the service will let current Comcast customers watch select channels (including HBO) for a price of $15 per month. Stream is slowly being rolled out in select locations.

There’s perhaps more noticeable fanfare for Comcast’s other upcoming internet-based service Watchable. Intended to rival Google-owned YouTube, the Watchable streaming service was launched Tuesday on “iOS, the web, and Comcast’s X1 set-top box.” According to Verge, it will feature programming from popular members of the internet establishment: Buzzfeed, Machinima, AwesomenessTV, Vice, and the Onion, among others.

Comcast hopes that the trusting familiarity of these big internet names will help make Watchable a success.

“We think Watchable can be a unique place that curates and distributes the best content from some of the most recognized brands and producers on the web.”

Some see these services, offered years after cheaper alternatives from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, as merely attempting to put a big bandage on a mortal wound.

Comcast severely overestimated the Millennial generation’s attachment to expensive cable programming. Meanwhile, Generation Z, the kids growing up now, hardly ever watch TV. Cord-cutters of all ages are discovering that life without a hefty Comcast bundle bill is pretty great. As pointed out by Fortune, it’s likely that cord cutting is a permanent, irreversible trend. That’s among generations of cable watchers. Coming up is the generation that hardly ever watches television and couldn’t imagine paying so much money for shows and movies they can easily find for cheap or free.

Comcast waited too long to try to get hip. That energy could have been put towards improved customer service, affordable, non-catch-having bundles. While Comcast has since diversified enough to perhaps survive the eventual “death of cable TV”, what survives will be a version that few who survive over the next few decades will probably recognize. Sort of the way kids today probably struggle to recognize TLC as “The Learning Channel” or believe that VH1 or MTV ever played music videos.

Could this turn of events have been avoided? Probably not. Often, greedy companies like Comcast often assume that they will be able to treat customers any way they want because as long as they’re the only service available, customers can’t look elsewhere — or so they think. By the time Comcast realized that customers found a unique method of moving on, it hoped to fool them with a “faux cord cutting service.” Instead of putting the streaming service as a cheap stand-alone $10 to $15 option, they put it on top of their bloated bundle options. This demonstrates that Comcast really had no chance at playing catch-up.

I don’t want to take bets on whether or not Watchable or Stream will be truly competitive, let alone save Comcast. That would sound too much like optimism, and I hate offering false hope to dead men walking.

Comcast, enjoy your customers while you can because your cable service is circling the drain of death by bad karma as thousands will continue to walk away from you. If you’d invested this energy into being some form of fairness and humanity a decade ago, you wouldn’t be staring down death’s door. I hope what lessons are learned from this are carried over into whatever Comcast is forced to evolve into in the near future.

[Image Credit: Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Comcast]