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Cable Technology Feature Article

February 09, 2010

Comcast Tries to Improve Image with Xfinity

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Comcast (News - Alert) is the nation's largest cable provider, but they’re interested in rolling out a new image among customers who only know them as a monopolistic cable giant with shoddy customer service, clunky technology platforms and rising prices, in The Wall Street Journal's words.

To that end, the Journal is reporting, Comcast is launching a major effort this week to rebrand its cable services under the banner Xfinity. The move is an effort to fight back against satellite providers, telecommunications giants and online video platforms.

“Xfinity will be the new brand for all its products starting Friday in 11 U.S. markets where the company has either launched its fastest broadband Internet service or its all-digital cable TV offering,” the journal reported.

We're not here to defend Comcast, no doubt they've earned their low reputation, but we do thank them for their Christmas promotion, offering Troop Greetings On Demand at no additional cost to its digital cable customers through the end of January. 

The service delivers Christmas greetings from military personnel stationed overseas to their loved ones back home to watch whenever and as often as they wish. The video greetings are accessible under the “Get Local” section of Comcast's signature On Demand menu, and run anywhere from five to twenty-five seconds.

Toward the end of January, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said existing law keeps the cable TV operator from denying satellite TV providers and other rivals access to NBC Universal (News - Alert) programming “on reasonable terms” when Comcast takes control of the media company, according to the Associated Press.

“Satellite companies such as DirecTV (News - Alert) and smaller cable companies fear that if regulators approve Comcast's plan to acquire a majority stake in NBC Universal, Comcast would be able to drive up prices for -- or even withhold -- popular national and local programming, including NBC television broadcasts.,” AP officials said. 

Still, one can understand the desire to shed the Comcast millstone of a brand, it still ranks near the bottom of major companies in The American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Comcast will also “take a majority stake in entertainment giant NBC Universal,” assuming all the political hurdles are jumped.

“Xfinity will be the new brand for our products, but it will be connected to Comcast's company name,” said Jenn Khoury, a Comcast spokeswoman. 

As the Journal notes, Cablevision Systems (News - Alert) has had a similar effort underway for years, with its products marketed under the Optimum brand, and Time Warner Cable is working on its own rebranding plan.

Verizon calls its products Fios, AT&T (News - Alert) has adopted the name U-Verse in other rebranding efforts.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Kelly McGuire