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NBComcast = Evil

December 4th, 2009

I’ve heard a lot of stuff floating around (some of it written by me) about the buyout of NBC Universal by Comcast. While there are conspiracy theories aplenty (as long as NBC remains in Obama’s pocket it’ll go through no problem) let’s take a more realistic, less dramatic view here:

Comcast is in league with or at least a subcontractor for the Devil.

As a long time Comcast subscriber (because I have no other viable options that don’t require clear-cutting my yard) I’ve had intimate experience with the company. They have a long history of doing whatever is best for them at the user’s expense. Example. Did you know that your Comcast Motorola DVR has the ability to skip forward in 30 second intervals? You didn’t? That’s funny, I didn’t either until I Googled it. I got tired of trying to fast forward through commercials so I looked it up and found out that the code was just disabled. I followed the tutorial and whammo, I’m in business. The only reason I can think that Comcast would do this is to force you to watch at least the last commercial before the show starts.

On top of that, I’ve had problems getting clean video from Dina for our recordings. We’ve jumped through a number of hoops to clean things up from a technical side but all signs point to Comcast. I’ve read that packet loss may very well be my problem and that Comcast has been known to basically “grease the squeaky wheel” rather than provide a stable service to those that pay for it and expect it. That sounds about right.

First hand, of course, I’ve had many experiences with Comcast Customer Support. My favorite story is when I was installing a router. It was my first router and it wasn’t working. I called the router company – it’s Comcast. I call Comcast, it’s the router company. I call Comcast again, and I get a tech who says, “I’m not supposed to tell you this but power off the modem and the router, then power them back on, modem first, then router.” Poof, I’m fixed. The real question is – Why weren’t they supposed to tell me that? Sure, I probably should have known that anyhow but at the time I didn’t. But I think the real reason is just for the service call. At $50 a pop plus having to wait around from 9am to 3pm (just to have them show up at 6pm), that’s a pretty big expense (and a cash cow for Comcast which can probably do 3 or more of those visits in an hour).

So, what do I think of the NBC/Comcast deal. I think it stinks. I think they’ll do whatever they can to increase their bottom line as long as it a) requires the least amount of effort and b) doesn’t give ANYTHING away for free. Hulu as we know it will be dead or at the very least hamstringed. There is no chance that Comcast will put any of their premium cable content (i.e. anything that isn’t Telemundo or NBC) on Hulu so you can kiss those dreams goodbye.

But honestly, I’m not that worried. There is little possibility in my mind that this deal will go through. It will create too big a powerhouse, too much a “soup to nuts” company that will be able to outbid and basically control the industry. Is it a good deal for Comcast? Sure. It makes total sense. But conspiracy theories aside, I don’t see how they are going to be able to push it through without some changes in how they do business. At the very least we are going to hear about changes like maybe spinning off some of the broadcasting or distributing into a separate company before the deal gets finalized. If we get lucky, that’ll mean that Comcast won’t be able to screw us as hard as it’d like.

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  1. CraigW
    December 4th, 2009 at 18:26 | #1

    Tom,

    Oh the drama, the horror, the humanity.

    I agree if this goes through Comcast becomes too powerful. May be you can understand why some of us feel so strongly about physical media. I admit I am a Blu addict. Too much control means the consumers get raked over the coals.

    When entities get too big, they can dictate down to the minutia how their content is accessed and used.

    I have nothing against streaming, but I don’t want it being the only way I can access content.

    Sounds like you are fearful of one company becoming too powerful due to your love of Hulu.

    Sure looks like multiple options are the best route for consumers, but not for big business. IOW, business as usual.

    BTW, I share your hatred of Comcast. I live in large burb of the Twin Cities and my only options are Comcast or the even more craptastic CenturyTel (former Embarq… Sprint). I don’t see the HSI superhighway that all the pro-streamers are promising unless I am will to fork over $100 for 50Mbps service.

    I am already being abused for $160 for nearly adequate internet and 2 piece o crap Motorola DVRs. I switched to digital cable to get away from Comcasts most craptastic of all analog cable. I mean I don’t know how they can get away with that when charging $50 for that.

    Those POS motorola boxes are costing me $17 each per month. It was $10 when I started using them 3 years ago.

    Sorry I am done with my ramblin’

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