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Summary:

The Wall Street Journal points out that advertising campaigns of cable companies, phone companies and satellite operators are turning downright nasty, with each group poking others in the eye. Comcast, in particular, has been making fun of AT&T’s Broadband and TV service, continuing the tradition it […]

The Wall Street Journal points out that advertising campaigns of cable companies, phone companies and satellite operators are turning downright nasty, with each group poking others in the eye. Comcast, in particular, has been making fun of AT&T’s Broadband and TV service, continuing the tradition it started with the Slowskys campaign. Now, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and Direct TV are joining the marketing version of mud slinging.

What it means: more spending on marketing. Whether they’re selling TV services or broadband connections, the incumbents will have to fight tooth-and-nail to get people to switch. It shouldn’t come as a surprise: The markets have reached a level of saturation where natural demand isn’t enough. The offerings from these incumbents aren’t that substantially different, and as a result their advertising messages have to be stuffed with hyperbole.

I find it amusing that they are throwing cow-patties at each other when they should be working on keeping their customers happy. I have yet to meet someone who says they love their cable company, phone company or satellite provider. Anyway, what is your favorite commercial from these companies?

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  1. It would be nice if they’d actually try to something in the way of a value-add. In my case, DirecTV is worth it because they’re the only ones offering Setanta Sports, for strategic soccer and Gaelic sports purposes. It seems like all cable and Baby Bells are interested in is looping you into a triple-play however they can and to hell with what happens once you’re under contract…which is why I’ve avoided that. DirecTV, Speakeasy DSL, and I’d rather eat asphalt than have Comcast.

  2. Mitchell Kertzman Sunday, April 27, 2008

    I’ve observed for some time that competitive corporate communications was becoming more and more like political communications – not a good development for either world!

  3. Dear Mr. Om Malik

    I am a regular reader of your blog and find it very informative. Just to bring to your attention the recent results of Bharti Airtel Limited, India’s biggest Mobile Service operator. They have very low ARPU’s of around $9 – 10 per month but enjoy very high EBITDA and Net Profit margins. We dont see the same margins with any of the US or European operators inspite of them charging much higher prices than in India. What could be the reason. You can download the complete results from their website airtel.in

  4. Andy Abramson Monday, April 28, 2008

    Interesting question Om.

    If you look at how the cable MSO’s keep carving up and consolidating the USA the cable landscape starts to look like the old Bell Map. We’re also rapidly getting down to fewer and fewer players. Time Warner, Comcast, Cox, Cablevision, Charter pretty much run the major markets.

    As for who I prefer? I think at the end of the day I’d go with Cable. There response time is quicker. They also are less prone to finger pointing as to why something is not working. Lastly, when you are a business customer, no matter how small you get better attention. Try that with your phone company.

  5. I believe that this is a result of the mindset and DNA of these carriers. They view themselves as building roads but are myopic to other solutions (or competitors).
    Hence the emergence of Skype, Instant Messaging etc that provide alternate connectivity. This same issue pervades the traditional device manufacturers who have been upended by the IPhone and are now scrambling. The last mile is still a quasi monopoly and keeps these folks in the game.

  6. Who cares? With TiVo/DVRs who watches commercials anymore? Not me.

    Except for the few entertaining commercials, most either push poor values or are so annoying its more like torture to sit through them.

    These companies are run by a bunch of greedy monkies who can create new business models.

  7. I like my cable company, for the most part, my internet is up 99.9% of the time (20/1.5 connection), cable always works, going on 8 yrs now.

    The downside is not a lot of HD, 23 channels if you purchase everything (HBO, SHO, etc.) and most of them are sports/nature, which I don’t really care about, also the package bundling, that every TV company does, making me pay for 20+ sports channels that I will NEVER watch to get the 10 channels in that package that I want.

  8. Mine would be DirecTV’s campaign. Seems they hit the pulse of Comcast’s @comcastcares on Twitter philosophy to “blog it out” rather than as Om says, focus on keeping their overall customer base happy.

  9. I’d only like to add that I don’t see cable co’s being capable of retaining a vast swath of their outlying suburban and rural customers over the next several years. They just can’t afford to perpetually add bandwidth in low population density area’s. 2 years from now 50% or more of Americans will have HD TV’s in their homes. The largest portions of the population who currently own HD tv’s are already better served by direct tv in that regard. That fact will become more and more evident very quickly amongst consumers coming into this summer and the third quarter as current LCD tv prices continue to drop.

    That being said, I’m far more interested in seeing what comes of the recent spectrum sell off. Depending on who actually bought it, multiple advanced services via that spectrum could show up much sooner than anyone at direct tv or Comcast would like to think.

  10. Time Warner Begins Death by 1,000 Cuts – GigaOM Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    [...] off its growing cable division and use the capital to buy back shares. While the cable business brought some stability to Time Warner’s bottom line, it’s an awkward asset for a content company to hold onto, [...]

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