There’s no official company link between the two ideas, but it’s hard to miss the obvious “customer retention plan” Comcast is crafting with its experiments in WiMax wireless services and its TV Everywhere content-on-the-Internet test. By allowing paying customers to view cable content anywhere on the web — and by giving them a low-cost, fast and mobile way to do so — Comcast is building the blocks of an entertainment-option package that will be tough to beat.
At the very least, Comcast should be able to keep a big part of its existing customer base happy simply by helping them view the content they already pay for in more places at more times. And if those customers decide sticking with Comcast for mobile broadband is better than spending more dough on an AT&T 3G card, that’s another feather in the competitive cap.
I’d be willing to wager a pint that most people who remain cable customers do so because they are generally happy (or simply resigned) to paying a certain amount each month for a wide assortment of couch-potato entertainment that’s easy to find. They may be aware of new technology and Internet TV, but when push comes to shove they just pay the cable bill, kick back and grab the clicker.
If combining low-cost mobile broadband (low, at least under the current-customer promotional prices Comcast unveiled for its WiMax services in Portland) with the ability to view, say, ESPN on a laptop without having to jump through the hoops of a Slingbox installation keeps those current Comcast customers from leaving, what’s that worth to the cable giant? Considering the generally high fees of finding and winning new customers, we’re guessing quite a bit. Maybe not worth the initial billion-dollar investment, but at least it’s looking better than some other highly hyped online video plays these days.
From a Clearwire perspective, the longer Comcast pursues this goal the better — while some observers might question whether or not Clearwire and Comcast will compete for 4G customers, since Comcast will be using Clearwire’s network why would Clearwire care who makes the sale so long as another customer is on the network? Seems like at this point in Clearwire’s lifecycle, having a committed reseller like Comcast — who certainly knows how to market door-to-doorknob — is a good friend to have. And since Clearwire’s market rollout schedule for 2009 includes cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta and Seattle — all Comcast markets, like Portland — it could be one of those friendships with benefits, which in this case means paying customers.
Need to Know more about Clearwire’s plans for market rollouts and devices for WiMax? Order our CLEARWIRE NTK, or Clearwire Need to Know, report for June 2009 for just $4.95!